Monday, November 14, 2011

Music Changes. Oops.

Let's say I write a song.

(Let's just say.)

I write this song, and I sell it to an artist (if that's not how it works, let's pretend).

Do I still own the song? Sure, I'll get a fancy little credit when the CD comes out, but no one cares.

What happens to my name when someone downloads that song from the internet and remixes it? Well, more than likely, it disappears.

So why aren't songwriters whining about this more than producers and lawyers? The artists aren't even whining all that much, and that's because everybody who takes a part in creating music knows why they did it.

The creators of Good Copy, Bad Copy, like we discussed in class, left out plenty points of view when making this documentary, and I think that's because there's a whole other side to this issue that doesn't make much sense but has a lot of impact over what people do with music. If you don't want your music to change when you release it, then what was the point?

When you tell your friend about that totally rad album that just came out, you're changing that album for the entire world. You're changing one person's perspective of the album, and then that person will listen to the album differently, and then that person will make a Facebook update about it, and then in three months that song that was supposed to be about the summer wind in Arkansas has turned into a drug song (about heroin, most likely). There's nothing that artist can do about it, and no one broke any copyright laws.

People interpret music, and some people like to express their interpretation by remixing songs. Music is going to change, just like texts are going to change, but artists are still going to make money. So really, I don't know what the issue with copyright is about. Just because a song by Justin Bieber is going to get butchered and remade into another genre doesn't mean Justin Bieber is going to have any less screaming teeny bopper fans, and he's certainly not going to get any less rich.

So if copyright isn't about money or recognition, then what's the deal?

1 comment:

  1. On a whim, I paid a visit to a website devoted to copyright protection and actually discovered a few interesting things. The first was that copyright not only protects published material, it also protects non-published material, as long as it is "created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device" ( This is interesting because I have a lot of unpublished material on my computer and low-and-behold, it is copyright protected! Ah, but what was even more interesting is that in order to have any legal standing in court, the copyright must be registered through the copyright branch. In the FAQ's section, it is pointed out that "In general, registration is voluntary" but if their is an infringement and the material is not registered, legal action (in the form of a lawsuit) isn't a viable option (
    So, it appears that the copyright itself is not about money or recognition but the act of registering the copyright could be. What we saw in the film in regard to the remixers was only one side as there seemed to be no representation from those remixers that actually purchase the rights of the song or have the artist personally seek them out to remix their song. We were exposed to the pirating side of it but not given the chance to hear from those who go through the process legitimately. Remixing is becomming an industry within the industry, rapidly growing (surprisingly, to me anyway, there are even electronic remixes of country songs).


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