Friday, November 17, 2006

release the music

Copyright's a subject I've long had mixed feelings about, and indeed it was partly thoughts about it that prompted me to start this blog. The pieces I post here are intended to be free for anyone to use as they will for any non-profit making purpose, in the spirit of the creative commons principle, and I've long thought that current copyright law is not only inadequate to cope with a world in which sampling exists and the presence of the internet is making national differences in the laws governing creative activity unsustainable, but actively harms composers' (and any creative artist's) ability and freedom to create. Think of J.S. Bach's arrangements of Vivaldi or Mozart's rewriting of J.C. Bach, and you'll have an idea of the kind of thing I'm thinking of as work which is vital to a composer's development, but which is rendered illegal by current law.

Now the recording industry seeks further to limit artists' ability to react with the culture around them by campaigning to have the duration of copyright on recordings from 50 to 70 years. They claim this is in the interests of the artists, but the truth is that all they are really interested is maintaining their grip on a cash cow. I believe that to change the law in the way they propose would be not just capitulating to corporate greed, but an act that would actively damage the cultural life of this country.

I won't bore you with facts and figures, you can find all the information you need here. What I will do is implore you to go to the Release the Music website and add your name to their petition.

Of course it's important to protect artists' livelihoods, and record companies are entitled to profit from their business like any other. But it's also important that creative work be allowed to pass into the public domain, where it can become the seed for new work. because if we can't do that, what on earth's the point?

No comments: