‘Negotiating Change: the Fair Internet for Performers Campaign’
ABSTRACT: My current four-year research project focuses on performers’ legal rights. The study responds to criticisms to copyright law for privileging Romantic ideals of classical music that pay excessive tribute to the author. To overcome this asymmetry, the research places performers’ rights at the centre of the discussion. Drawing on interviews with performing musicians and record industry and government representatives, I examine these rights from a wide perspective: I take into account 1) the history of these rights, 2) how performers make use of the law in everyday practice and through case law, 3) how the rights are managed, and 4) the processes involved in changing existing law. I have found a systematic under-privileging of performers in aesthetic and legal discourse and practice. This paper engages with the fourth point by examining the Fair Internet for Performers Campaign advanced by the Musicians’ Union with international support from AEPO-ARTIS and FIA. By mapping the stakeholders in this debate and their differing strategies and proposals, I assess the timeframe and chances of this campaign to lead to positive change for performers. I argue that, ultimately, this battle is one of successfully harnessing and directing public opinion by persuasively narrating popular music: the major labels’ greatest strength.
Ananay’s project is situated, historically, almost 100 years after the origin of copyright in sound recordings. The research has four elements: origins, use, management and reform, and today’s presentation covers the last one – reform.
Ananay Aguilar (University of Cambridge): The Value of Performance in Law: Performers’ Rights and Creativity
British copyright law has been criticised for privileging musical elements and practices that have been important in the conceptualisation of classical music, above those which have developed independently of that tradition. This conceptualisation has been associated with classical music’s aesthetic concept of the artwork: both law and the artwork treat composition as the culmination of creative genius, while performance is attributed little or no creative status. This asymmetry is further complicated by the domination of capital over labour in the protection of sound recordings, as copyright law vests authorship in the company that bears the costs of making and issuing the recording: performers are denied authorship over the record of their own performance. While the 1988 Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act introduced rights in performance, the depth and breadth of legal protection for performance-based musical practices, like most popular musics, remain limited. To overcome this asymmetry, commentators have focussed on how the concept of authorship might be extended to embrace collaborative practices that fall outside of the practices of classical music. My current project explores an alternative approach that places performers’ rights at the centre of the discussion. In this presentation I will attend to relevant case law to outline two main issues: firstly, the separation of creativity between composition and performance implied by these rights and, secondly, their relation to recent technological developments.