Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Walking the legal line - abstraction, obstruction or protection?

Talking to a lawyer about an area you feel passionate about is a terrible, terrible thing. At least it is if he/she's telling you the ins and outs of your field. Trust me, most of it is about the outs and the ways that other people can screw you.

It's not really their fault, its just their job. Hopefully if you get into a spot you'll be able to afford one. So, today we listened to Robert Chalmers, former lawyer and current commercial development manager for adelaide.

Copyright law for music is a strange thing. The main thing in Australia is that whatever you do, you own the creative copyright to anything you produce unless you are employed or commissioned by someone to do that work. In that case, the person behind the commissioning owns that right (the right to reproduce the work).

There are also these things called moral rights, which are attached to works automatically. They're not us tough as copyright laws, but they do offer some bargaining power. Hypothetically, you may play piano for a peice of comissioned film music. Technically you get what you're paid, full stop.

If someone wants to release the soundtrack on CD, you'll have no controll over what happens. However, you do have some moral rights attached to the work and you may be able to say "hey, give me money damn it or you'll have a dirty conscience. I could wave my Moral rights for a sum and then we cold also avoid going to court which will be costly for both of us. Its cheaper to pay me and keep me quiet"

At the time it all seemed very scary, and then the lawyer said something like "its easy to get around this law. The way to do it is not use bits of other people's music in your music". It does sound easy, but then i thought, "actually, now you mention it buddy, i actually feel like playing with sounds other people have produced/recorded/whatever, or i don't want to be restricted to by this.

If you copy someone's material, you'll get what you deserve. This rates somewhere inbetween nothing (you get no credit and nobody cares) or you get lots (you where so smart, you hoodwinked the system and now you can wear a tracksuit all day!).

Just think about Danger Mouse, he's that guy who helped Gorillaz make the really cool music that helps to sell ipods. Anyway, you look for on Wikipedia (, he's practically made a career out of stealing music and i kind of think that for being so clever he gets what he deserves. As if the Beatles of Jay Z care?

By the way, I found an interesting site when i was looking for an article on Danger Mouse - it looks like it's interesting but i haven't had the chance to check it out proper-like yet. Or even, which is funny.

In fact the more i look, the internet is rife with stuff about freeness etc, try this one too if you're in the mood

It's funny, i couldn't have written this without looking at things other people have done already. Its okay for the world of words to be acknowledged and distrubeted freely on the internet, it's interesting that it's different for art.

Chalmers, Robert. "Copywrite: your rights and music". Forum. EMU, University of Adelaide.


Post a Comment

<< Home