A Historical Look At Copyright And Music

from the useful-reading dept

Jon sends in an interesting link from the New Statesman from last month, discussing some of the history of music and copyright, specifically as it concerned 19th century music. The article is something of a response to the ridiculous, unnecessary and dangerous plan in Europe to extend copyright on performance rights, supposedly to protect "session musicians," but which really just enriches the record labels, and would do very little for the session musicians (who made their deal with the public when they performed in the first place).

There are some notable points in the article, including the fact that since France was one of the first countries to have very strong intellectual property laws for music, many musicians tried to establish themselves in France, but the music produced under that system, in retrospect, isn't considered even remotely in the same class as some of the music produced elsewhere -- even though it was the French composers who got wealthy. In other words, the system of granting monopolies did not do much to encourage better music -- but did plenty to encourage a few mediocre composers to monopolize the system to get wealthy. That's not to say that the alternative business models were good for the musicians in question (the article notes the troubles many faced), but the purpose of copyright is not to make certain musicians rich, but to get them to create better content. And, these days, there are many mechanisms in place by which musicians can make money without relying on intellectual property protections.

Filed Under: copyright, history, music


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