Music and Dance: Beyond Copyright Text?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: School of Law

Abstract

Statutory copyright law has its origins in protecting text. The desire of booksellers to exert control over dissemination of the printed word in the wake of the demise of the Stationers' monopoly in printing books in place since the mid-16th century led to the enactment of the Statute of Anne in 1710. This was an Act 'for the encouragement of learning by vesting copies of the printed books in the authors or purchasers of the copies' and gave to the author or his assigns the 'Liberty of Printing and Reprinting such Book and Books'. In the face of losing the monopoly over the most lucrative of books at the end of the period of protection, the quest for control over the written word was further played out in the Battle of the Booksellers when, in 1774 Donaldson v Becket, the House of Lords ruled against the existence of a perpetual common law of copyright. Protection thus emerged for the written word, the extent of which was bounded by the Act, reflecting then current notions of property. It is from these textual foundations that the law has striven to find a means to protect the experimental, experiential, performance driven music and dance genres. Contemporary copyright law contained in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 lists music and dance among the types of work that it protects. But certain features of the law suggest that these innovative, collaborative and performance based forms of creativity may either be under-protected or may lack any form of protection, most notably as their limits are constantly pushed by digital and web-based technologies. In order to be protected by copyright the law requires that a work fall into a particular category in the Act, that it be fixed in some medium, and that it be created by one, or at the most, a few individuals. This would seem to make it difficult to protect such creations as the saxaphone improvisations of Anthony Brasxton, the mash-up culture of contemporary popular dance music, the outputs of digital musical sampling, and Edouard Lock, and La La La Human Steps' ballet, Amjad. When a work is protected, the law allows for a certain amount of copying when creating new works. The limits of what can be taken, however, tend to be opaque and rigid, raising the question as to whether the law leaves sufficient space, including virtual space, for such forms as parody, digital musical sampling and new dance moves. For the first time, an inter-disciplinary team of experts in the field of copyright law, musical composition, contemporary dance, cultural policy and cultural economics will come together to consider these questions. In so doing they will use empirical research methodology (questionnaires) and observation (through filming and otherwise recording the production of experiential works) to produce an illustrative picture of actual practices in the creation of new forms of musical and dance works. They will consider whether and how the copyright framework maps on to the performances and the role for cultural policy in the fostering, support and exploitation of music and dance within the wider creative economy.

Publications


10 25 50

publication icon
Schlesinger P (2012) Copyright and cultural work: an exploration in Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research

publication icon
Waelde C (2011) Performers on the Edge



Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/G000565/1 01/09/2008 30/09/2010 £25,031
AH/G000565/2 Transfer AH/G000565/1 01/08/2010 31/08/2011 £17,495
 
Description The prime question for this project asked whether experiential, experimental forms of music and dance were beyond protection by copyright. While the technical answer was yes, the important findings were much more nuanced. The creative process prior to fixation is of prime importance and is thus before copyright - in other words not protected by copyright; and there is much about a performance that defies fixation or is of the kind not recognised by the criteria required for copyright protection, and is thus beyond copyright. These are important findings when thinking about how policy might be best targeted in the creative industries particularly when much policy focuses on the tangible 'thing' rather than the intangible process.
Exploitation Route Policy makers should consider how policy could be framed in order to best meet the processes that important to those who participate in the creative industries, most particularly those who work either on their own or in small collaborations. This is particularly important at a time when the arts and culture sector is increasingly being pushed to be 'resilient' in a time of stretched public funding
Sectors Creative Economy
 
Description InVisible Difference: Disability, dance and the law 
Organisation Coventry University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution A three year collaborative AHRC funded project starting in January 2013 between Coventry, Exeter, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities
Start Year 2013
 
Description Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property: submission to consultation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Submission to Government Consultation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Submission to the consultation on the European Commission Green Paper on Cultural and Creative Industries 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Submission to the consultation on the European Commission Green Paper on Cultural and Creative Industries explaining finding of project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description The exploitation of Dance - Round table symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Open event at Coventry University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011