Rhythm, Records and Rules: Music Copyright Laws

After reading Goldstien’s chapter, The History of an Idea, and listening to the cover of “Somebody I used to know” I was eager to learn more about music copyrights, especially covers, personal use, and public use.

According to attorney John M. Garon’s website copyright laws give the original artist rights to release to first recording of the song, but after that anyone is free to make their own version.  Even though copyright allows musicians to make covers of songs there is still a set rate the artist must pay in order to release their version on CDs, the Internet, or other sources.  Under no circumstances are they allowed to be played in movie soundtracks, video games, or other commercial works.

Although covers are not an infringement of copyright law, there are many other common activities that are.  Examples of copyright infringement include: downloading copyrighted music for free from a “pirated” website, uploading a youtube home-video that is using a copyrighted song as the background music, or sending a friend a song through an MP3 file.  Yes, these infringements might be minor, but they are much more likely to effect everyday people, especially because many individuals aren’t aware of these specific rules.

Average people might never be targeted, caught, or punished for these infringements but high profile abusers such as Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will get into trouble .   From 2009 up to his recent campaigns Gingrich has been walking out to stage playing composer, co-writer, and owner, Frank Sullivan’s Eye of a Tiger.  Sullivan and his company Rude Music Inc. filed a law suit against Gingrich to stop him from using their song and award their company with damages for his infringement.

PS. Chapter 13- “Advocate the Use of Serial Comma”

3 thoughts on “Rhythm, Records and Rules: Music Copyright Laws

  1. The copyright laws for music seem to be much more simple than they do with other works of art. However I find it interesting that there is no copyright law that has to do with other artist doing covers of songs. I know that me personally I would at least want some of the profit that another artist made off of my song. Do you think that’s reasonable for that too happen?

  2. I found copyright law involving music and digital sampling fascinating, if complicated, too. While I’m sure that hit songs such as Good Feeling by Flo Rida, which samples Etta James, found the proper licensing, I wonder how have hip-hop, rap, and other artists without major record deals progressed since the defining Biz Markie case in 1991? I also wonder what has happened to file sharing in light of the arrest of Kim Dotcom and the shutdown of his massive file-sharing site Megaupload-will this turn turn the tables on file-sharing with Limewire and Napster behind it, or will another site simply spring up in its place?
    I also wonder if technology should be corralled to some extent, without breaching the line of censorship. In other words, should someone able to send a music file through email to a friend with no sensors in place to detect the copyright? Is it possible to have the best of internet freedom and copyright protection, or are they simply mutually exclusive ideals?

  3. It is interesting that covers are allowed, but using a copyrighted song as background music in an innocent video is not. I wonder why covers are allowed? The first idea that sprang up in my mind was because it spreads the message of not only the artist doing the cover of it, but also of the original artist, thus increasing creativity like the founding fathers wanted. However, why would laws ban using a copyrighted song in background music then? One would think that use would proliferate the author more.

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