A series of recent stories about Lady Gaga show an interesting view of copyright law from team Gaga. It quickly becomes clear that, contrary to the stated purpose of copyright law, Gaga doesn't view copyright as a way to incentivize her music creation or even to protect her music. Instead, it's all about protecting her image
. A year ago, we noted that Gaga and her label made sure that her music was widely available for free
(legally) to increase exposure, knowing that she would make money elsewhere (notably, Lady Gaga is signed to a 360 deal which gives her label a cut of touring, sponsorship and merch sales. That "job" she has as "creative director"
at Polaroid? Yeah, Interscope/Universal gets a cut of that as well.) Lady Gaga, herself, has said that she doesn't care about piracy
, saying that she knows that as more people download her music, she'll make it up on tour, saying "it's just the way it is today."
Okay, so she's good with free music and making money elsewhere. But she's still turning up as a copyright bully in certain cases. We just covered her silly complaint (not specified, but probably a publicity rights or trademark) against the makers of Baby Gaga ice cream
, but in the comments to that article, it was pointed out that Gaga recently demanded that photographers at her concerts hand over the copyright to all the images they take
. It also included strict limitations, saying that the photographer and his or her publication could only use the image for 4 months before having to take it down. The article notes that a few other bands -- the Beastie Boys among them -- have similar clauses in their photo release forms.
This clause has apparently gotten many photographers pretty upset
, especially concerning some comments from someone who worked with Gaga who "questioned why photographers automatically own copyright on their work, since it's the artist who does the show."
While I won't step in between the photographers and the supporters of the musicians, what really strikes me about this is just how twisted copyright has become these days for folks like Lady Gaga. Reading through these stories, it's clear that she's not using copyright as an incentive to create music at all. Instead, it appears its sole purpose for her is to act as a tool for control over the use of her image. Perhaps that's fine, but that's certainly not the official reasons for copyright, and in an age when we hear about how important copyright is to artists, it seems worth noting just how much it's been twisted for totally unintended purposes here.