Copyright – Art and the Business of Recording
There are some things that can make or break a person. A person’s talent, his brainpower, the way he conducts business, how he presents himself to a person. But one thing that can be overlooked is the copyright. Copyright can cement someone’s work as his own or can have someone else own the rights to the product entirely. This has been a concept that has been around for a while. Even during the Civil War with the Cotton Gin, everyone knew that Elie Whitney was the man who invented it, but he didn’t seem to get all the money off of it, why is that? Because somebody else snatched the patent for it before him. For me I feel that copyright is something that should be negotiated before a song is recorded. If you write a song, or had any part in the composition then you should put your name down with a (c) next to it just so there isn’t any sort of argument at that point. But then when you start to record there are the producers being brought in, the sound engineers, mixers, etc.
They all have their finger prints on the recording, and needless to say some people do more work then others. So then you have to figure out who has done what, because more work on the project means more money in the mail from royalties. So I don’t understand why there isn’t a written contract done before a piece of work. This is how I would do business, I would have a well laid out contract, it would be tough to make everyone happy, but once they sign they can’t do anything right? It’s a contract, a binding agreement about the contract, what could go wrong? Well if you’re unlucky enough, everything.
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The owner of the copyright of a song has five basic rights:
* To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords.
* To prepare, derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.
* To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental lease or lending.
* In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicicly.
* In the case of literary musical dramatic and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly. (Hull, 224)
A person with copyright can do anything with his song. For example if Yoko Ono decided to take John Lennon’s Imagine and let Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears do a cover of it, they could because they have the full permission of the owner of the copyright. It would be a terrible cover for sure, but what can we do? Yoko Ono has all the say for the song. Speaking of Christina Aguilera, I am reminded of how people use Copyright, and song writing credits to raise popularity. Supposedly on Christina’s new album she co-writes most of the songs, but recently she complained in an interview that she helped write some songs on her previous album but received zero credit because the record company would not let her. I don’t know if it is just me but I think that a teen artist would receive more fame and money if she had the good pop hits and helped to write them. I know I would be more inclined to listen to Christina Aguilera if she really did write her own songs, because I feel that songs come from within, and to hear someone singing what came from within is a great thing.
Well one can’t go through a paper about copyright without talking about the “plague” of the record industry: the CD-R. In the year 2001 for the first time ever there was a drop in record sales, and it wasn’t half percent or anything, but 4 percent, which when put into the big picture is a lot of money lost. The main word that has been used to explain why this has happened was the word that has been on everyone’s mind for the past 7 years: Internet. In the past year cd-r drives dropped to extremely low prices, and many companies were giving them with their computer as a standard piece of equipment. This plus cheap cd-r’s going as low as 50 cents a pop and broadband Internet where one can download a song in about 3 minutes gave people a very simple theory.
Why pay 13 bucks for a CD when I can just burn it for 50 cents and about 10 minutes of my time? Many artists have voiced their own opinions about the piracy, from Metallica and Dr. Dre suing the now De-funked Napster, to bands like U2 and The Goo Goo Dolls saying that they have enough money, what would a few records matter to them? Of course many people like me are more then willing to download an album and listen to it, if I like it enough I’ll go out and buy it, and if it’s ok I’ll burn myself a copy. But of course there are the small people, the ones who suffer the most.
If a local band is playing, and they are living out of a van and selling their CDs for only five bucks a piece, that’s money in their pockets, but what if they sold it to 20 people, and all 20 burnt five copies each for their friends, that’s $100 that the band will never see. The copyright to many is just an annoying message that comes up when you first use your cd copier program for the first time saying that is unlawful, yada yada yada, free cd! Recently the government put a stop to record companies putting “anti-ripping” software the CDs that they release because it violates the 1992 Record Copying laws, so I think we’ll be seeing this for some time now.