Ananay Aguilar: University of Cambridge (UK)
‘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.