Using music soundalikes can be much less costly than using the real thing. A sound-alike or Pastiche is a long used technique used by composers.
For example, using the original James Bond theme in your project would be very expensive, but using a track that sounds like it will be much more cost-effective. For example, this one called Mister Bond is from £22.50 in our library and is very similar in sound.
Is this copyright infringement?
No. The melody in this example is unique and does not copy the melody of the James Bond theme so therefore does not breach its copyright.
You cannot copyright a style of music. You cannot copyright a chord sequence or type of sound. The piece in question does not breach copyright as it uses common sounds and common chord patterns.
So, I wont be sued?
Well, that is not necessarily true. I cannot honestly say that it is not a risk.
While the music does not breach any copyright, it depends on the context of use. For example, if you were trying to use it in a major TV advert, for a major company, there is no guarantee that the owners of the Bond franchise wouldn’t take exception to this.
If they felt that you were trying to pass off your content as part of their franchise or trying to benefit from their brand, they may have grounds to pursue you legally.
At the other end of the scale, a YouTube video in the spy genre or as a parody would probably not really get much attention. Especially if it was being used by a small company or individual and only attracting small amounts of views. Even used on a larger scale broadcast such as TV advertising is probably going to be fine if the context isn’t infringing upon their brand. For example, portraying action and drama with a soundalike is hardly something that can be owned by the Bond franchise. Imagine, an action sequence with cats, or squirrels running to advertise pet food. This is not really benefiting from the Bond brand, although, if you decide to use a James Bond lookalike with a soundalike or even Daniel Craig himself to advertise a car or brand of dinner suit, you are likely heading for trouble.
In my opinion, it is all down to money. For example, if it was used on a John Lewis Christmas advert, the Bond copyright owners may see a worthwhile target, whereas, a corporate video for a small business would probably not concern them. And even then, they would have to approach it from the aspect of it affecting their brand or you trying to represent their brand as the music would not be breaching their copyright. This is the reason you can’t give a 100% guarantee on soundalikes even when there is no copyright breach in the music.
The Bond chord pattern is distinct but can’t be under copyright as it is just a chord sequence. There are lots of Mission Impossible, Bond and other film soundalikes out there that sound similar but do not copy any of the melodic elements and therefore do not breach copyright. These generally get used without issue, but there is no guarantee. It does happen…
Examples Sourced from Lexology.com article
Please note: This is my opinion and does not constitute any form of legal advice. You should seek appropriate legal advice from a specialist lawyer if in doubt.