1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Some recent copyright books

Here are a couple of recent copyright publications that may be of interest to readers of the 1709 Blog.


The first is Concepts of Music and Copyright: How Music Perceives Itself and How Copyright Perceives Music, edited by lawyer-musicologist Andreas Rahmatian (School of Law,l University of Glasgow).  This is the second book Andreas has published with Edward Elgar Publishing in recent times, following the well-received Copyright and Creativity: The Making of Property Rights in Creative Works in 2011 (details here).  According to the web-blurb:
Copyright specialists have often focused on the exploitation of copyright of music and on infringement, but not on the question of how copyright conceptualises music [this blogger is not surprised. While trade mark law in Europe makes specific reference to conceptual meaning and patent law focuses on the expression in concrete form of the abstraction of the invention, copyright law has made fewer demands for conceptualisation on the part of its practitioners]. This highly topical volume brings together specialists in music, musicology and copyright law, providing a genuinely interdisciplinary research approach. It compares and contrasts the concepts of copyright law with those of music and musical performance. Several tensions emerge between the ideas of music as a living art and of the musical work as a basis for copyright protection.

The expert contributors discuss the notions of the musical work, performance, originality, authorship in music and in copyright, and co-ownership from the disciplinary perspectives of music, musicology and copyright law. The book also examines the role of the Musicians’ Union in the evolution of performers’ rights in UK copyright law, and, in an empirical study, the transaction costs theory for notice-and-takedown regimes in relation to songs uploaded on YouTube.

This unique study offers an interdisciplinary perspective for academics, policymakers and legal practitioners seeking a state-of-the-art understanding of music and copyright law.
The cast of contributors really is multidisciplinary: it includes John Butt (Gardiner Professor of Music at Andreas's university) and his colleagues Bjorne Heile, Martin Parker Dixon and John Williamson, plus law academics Charlotte Waelde and Alison Firth and the engagingly persuasive polymath Paul Heald. This is a truly enjoyable and accessible music even for non-musicologists, and will be particularly interesting to admirers of the late Duke Ellington

Details: xiv + 231 pp.  Hardback (£75, but only £67.50 if purchased online from the publisher). ISBN: 978 1 78347 818 7.  More details from the book's website here.


The second new title is Understanding Copyright: Intellectual Property in the Digital Age, penned by the University of Leeds triumvirate of Bethany Klein, Giles Moss and Lee Edwards. This is not a law book as such: all three authors hail from their university's School of Media and Communication, from which it will be swiftly intuited that this is more a book about what copyright allows and doesn't allow in the modern digital climate than about the procedural niceties, the splitting of jurisprudential hairs and the sanctification of time-worn precedents.  It is also a book about policy and politics. Issues and arguments are summoned from both sides of the Atlantic and the copyright which is under the authors' scrutiny is a sort of generalised, non-jurisdiction-specific law -- a slight disappointment to those who think that copyright behaves in quite different ways in the United States from the rest of the world and that the policy debate there is both quite different and a good deal more advanced than its stodge-bound European equivalent.

This is what the book's web-blurb has to say about it:
Digital technology has forever changed the way media is created, accessed, shared and regulated, raising serious questions about copyright for artists and fans, media companies and internet intermediaries, activists and governments. Taking a rounded view of the debates that have emerged over copyright in the digital age, this book:
  • Looks across a broad range of industries including music, television and film to consider issues of media power and policy.
  • Features engaging examples that have taken centre stage in the copyright debate, including high profile legal cases against Napster and The Pirate Bay, anti-piracy campaigns, the Creative Commons movement, and public protests against the expansion of copyright enforcement.
  • Considers both the dominant voices, such as industry associations, and those who struggle to be heard, including ordinary media users, drawing on important studies into copyright from around the world.
  • Offering media students and scholars a comprehensive overview of the contemporary issues surrounding intellectual property through the struggle over copyright, Understanding Copyright explores why disagreement is rife and how the policy-making process might accommodate a wider range of views.
From the words "Considers both the dominant voices, such as industry associations, and those who struggle to be heard, including ordinary media users" one can appreciate that this is a book with an attitude.  Those who struggle to be heard do not presumably include professional musicians or the large number of authors whose low levels of copyright-dependent income are recorded by organs such as the Musicians Union and the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, but who don't quite make it into this slim volume.  Maybe next time?

Details: vii + 152 pp  Soft covers. ISBN 9781446285848. Price £23.99. More details from the book's website here.

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