Music copyright has been a constant battle in the industry since modern law came into effect. Musicians face each other over claims of creation. Companies battle over sampling issues and plagiarism. And the biggest battle of all rages constantly across the entire planet. Piracy. All of these issues compound to continually put stress on one of the most lucrative and important industries on the planet. Many up and coming musicians look for a reliable lawfirm specialised in media law before they do much else just to make sure they are protected from the oncoming storm of copyright law. But why is copyright law so important to musicians and the music industry as a whole?
How it Works
Before we can look at why Copyright law is so important, we have to understand what it is and how it works. When some create something and they want to sell it, without anyone copying their idea, they can copyright it. This applies to products, fiction, and, importantly to us, music. People love to sprout the argument that artists should be fine with proving their work for free as it should be done for the art. But artists need to eat. They need to be comfortable and be able to produce their art. Money makes our society work. And this is the main body of copyright law.
Once a song has become copyrighted by a musician, it is their property. They can then do with it as they wish. This is how they make money off their songs. Stations will buy the right to play their song on the radio. Streaming services will pay them for the right to stream the music. They will be able to sell albums and singles to the public. The copyright law on a song stops another musician or company from simply taking their song and making money of it themselves or distributing it for free to the public.
Why is this Important
The first, and most important reason Copyright law is vital, is to protect the artist’s source of income. As we said, these artists need money to survive, just like anyone else, and copyright law ensures they get what is rightfully theirs. Secondly, it is a matter of pride. For an artist, their art means the world to them. When they produce something they pour their heart and soul into it. It becomes a part of themselves and they share that with the world. Having that part stolen and misused by someone can be painful for them. Copyright law further helps protect artists.
It also encourages fresh art. In our increasingly digital world, it is all too easy to simply rip off another artist. This creates a stagnant artistic landscape. Copyright law forces people to create new content. This doesn’t mean using other artists’ work as inspiration or in sampling is a bad thing, quite the opposite. As long as it is done with permission.
The Piracy Battle
Piracy is an issue that plagues all forms of entertainment. It is not just contained in the music industry. Piracy is the act of illegally downloading and sharing media without permission. Copies are made of the song or album and then put up on streaming sites or burnt onto physical discs and sold. There are lots of arguments over if piracy is inherently wrong and some use it as a method of testing songs before buying. But we are interested in those who maliciously gain income off other people’s art. This hurtful practice is theft and can devastate hardworking individuals, not just the artists, but those working at record labels and producing stations.
Copyright law is in place to make sure legal firms, governments, and artists have the ability to go after those who try illegally distribute their material. Without copyright law, artists would be at the mercy of thieves and digital pirates intent on robbing them of their source of income.
Copyright law is an often murky area of the music industry. It is sometimes seen as a necessary evil by some, and a force of guiding good by others. But however you look at it, it is an important and integral part of the industry and it is here to stay.