Monthly Archive for August, 2008Page 2 of 3

The Future of Copyright Law: Moral Rights & Attribution for Music

As a musician, my biggest concern with releasing my music over the web for others to remix is not that I’ll get paid if money is made, but that I’ll be attributed for my work. This is because, as an unsigned and unknown artist, I am currently more interested in cultivating a fan base than profiting from my art. As I see it, I will find creative ways to profit from my work once I have actually formed something that resembles a fanbase.

A good way of providing artists with attribution, irrespective of the destiny of their art, is through implementing a moral rights scheme that would ensure attribution for authorship, even if ownership of the music belongs to a third party. Originally laid out in Article 6bis of the Berne Convention of Literary and Artistic Works, moral rights were extended to music in 1996 through the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Article 5(1) of that treaty reads: “Independently of a performer’s economic rights, and even after the transfer of those rights, the performer shall, as regards his live aural performance or performance fixed in phonograms, have the right to claim to be identified as the performer of his performances…and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of his performances that would be prejudicial to his reputation.”

Moral rights generally include three rights: the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work. These rights are separate from economic rights, and belong exclusively and perpetually to the original creators of the work, and not any third party who assumes ownership of a copyright, such as a record label.

In the music context, I don’t believe in the right to integrity, as in my mind, a piece of music is never finished, but rather constantly evolving. But, the right of attribution is paramount in the digital context. Since media can so easily be shared today, sharing should be embraced as long as the original authors are always attributed. Creative Commons has embraced this notion since its inception, and it’s time for Congress to recognize that this needs to be added to the Copyright Act to meet the necessities of the digital era. In fact, the United States Court of Appeals held, in Jacobsen v. Katzer, that Creative Commons licensors are entitled to copyright infringement relief. This means that if somebody uses a CC work that requires attribution without attributing the original author, a claim for copyright infringement exists.

With this legislative change, the US, a Berne and WIPO signatory, would seemingly be killing three birds with one stone: 1) deal with copyright law’s inadequacy in the digital age, 2) comply with Berne by adopting am adequate Moral rights scheme, and 3) comply with the WIPO treaty by extending moral rights to music. While the US became a member of the Berne Convention in 1989, the US has chosen to narrowly adopt a moral rights scheme and to apply it exclusively to visual arts under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990. By omitting to do so, the US is failing to comply with the Berne convention and the 1996 WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. So, maybe its time for Congress to actually got off its ass! I mean, are musicians less important that visual artists? Or is it that visual artists have more lobbying power?

An adoption of a music moral rights scheme would greatly tickle my paranoid pickle in the digital era, and it would help me feel comfortable in distributing my digital music in creative and innovative ways. Evolve, damnit!

International Music Spotlight: Japanese Reggae

The first entry in our international music spotlight series focused on Ugandan hip hop. Today we head east to explore Japanese reggae. Numerous sub-genres of reggae have a presence is Japan, though dancehall is arguable the most popular – perhaps due to the erotic nature of the accompanying dance moves? Try googling “Japanese dancehall”. Woah. Anyway. The focus here will simply be on reggae in Japan.

Here’s a little taste: Pang. (Now there’s a girl that looks good with a shaved head.)

Many are surprised to learn that there is a reggae scene in Japan at all. From what I’ve found, the big names seem to include the following: Rankin Taxi, Ackee & Saltfish, Pushim, Ryo The Skywalker, Mighty Crown, Megaryu, Lecca, and DJ Tokiyas.

Megaryu is one of my favorites. Check out this song. There’s something about it that reminds me of a Los Pericos song, Pupilas Lejanas…perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of a sad, sort of soaring melody filled with melancholy (at least that’s the emotion that I get from it without actually understanding the words) against a light, simple reggae beat.

According to the Rastafari Wikipedia page: “A small but devoted Rasta community developed in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rasta shops selling natural foods, Reggae recordings, and other Rasta-related items sprang up in Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities. For several years, “Japan Splashes” or open-air Reggae concerts were held in various locations throughout Japan.”

In recent years, dancehall reggae has emerged as the dominant form of reggae in Japan. One might wonder why that particular subgenre has risen to the top. What is it about dancehall that appeals to its fans in Japan? Do the faster-paced, more flashy, less political/religious facets of dancehall resonate more closely with Japanese culture? Or just with a subset of energetic Japanese youth?

Perhaps Blake More can shed some light on these questions with his unique dissection of the culture, Jamming in Jah Pan.

MixMatchMusic to Launch at DEMOfall '08

MixMatchMusic is excited to announce that we have been selected to reveal our groundbreaking music service at DEMOfall 08, the premier, unparalleled event that showcases the latest, best technologies – those that promise to literally reshape our future and enrich our lives. This is a big achievement for MMM, and will be an excellent way to launch our Public Beta!

Through the $600 registration discount we’re offering you, we invite you to join us at DEMOfall 08 to see, touch, and hear about our incredible breakthrough – before anyone else does. Take advantage of this special deal, and register today for only $2,395.

MixMatchMusic at SXSW? We need your help!

Recently, MixMatchMusic submitted a couple of discussion topics to South by Southwest (SXSW) organizers for its 2009 Interactive Festival agenda. SXSW is currently planning to have about 150 sessions at next year’s event. At least 100 of these sessions will come from the ideas submitted via the Panel Picker and what people vote through for next year’s agenda.

Here’s what you can do. Click here; take one minute to register and submit your feedback and rating on MixMatchMusic’s discussion ideas by 11:59pm on Friday, August 29, 2008.

The MixMatchMusic panel topics are captured under the header “New Technology/Next Generation.” Here are the panel titles and the description you’ll see when you click on the submission idea.

Mix & Match: A New Model for Engaging Fans

Description: The $18 billion dollar music industry includes a relative handful of famous acts and tens of millions of independent and semi-professional artists, many of whom would like to collaborate with each other and are on the lookout for an innovative new way to cultivate and engage with a solid base of music enthusiasts. This panel discussion would address the intersection of music, technology and social media and the tools that musicians want and need to collaborate with other artists, engage fans and ultimately create great new music.

A New Model for Artists’ Collaboration Online

Description: What exactly is a collaborative music environment? This proposed panel discussion will specifically address the rights scheme needed to support a collaborative environment online. Panelists would riff on a system of rights and legal protections that will help to ensure that musicians can profit online from their art.

Thanks for your help and we look forward to seeing you in Austin at SXSW 2009!

Dr. Dre – Detox, Intox

From the N.W.A. days to his tone setting 1992 gangsta rap album The Chronic and its follow-up, 1999’s The Chronic 2001, Dr. Dre has been innovative, imaginative and a savvy entrepreneur when it comes to his music, production and artist discovery. He even had the good sense to abandon the Death Row ship before it sank. But 7 years is a long time between first and second albums, and he’s trumped that now as it’s been 9 years since the second.

According to Dre, however, the long rumored final solo project he’s been working on for years, entitled Detox, is just around the corner. And in conjunction with Detox, Dre has teamed up with some liquor specialists to release a cognac, as well as sparkling flavored and regular flavored vodka. This type of collaboration is an interesting mixmatch of music and alcohol products, and embodies some of the themes we’ve been examining and discussing here at Evolving Music in terms of the new methods artists are using to cross-promote and increase revenue.

The good Doctor has announced that Detox, “in a perfect world,” would be released in November or December. The liquor company, Drinks America, has said they’re looking 60 days out for the release of the bottles. This would mirror the November release of 2001, set everything up for the holiday season, as well as bring much needed booze into the lives of so many sad souls around December. I can imagine sitting in my recliner, watching the rain hit my window as I bounce to Dre’s new beats and sip his cognac by the fire. There’s of course going to be some club hits on the album, and those’ll go nicely for all the go-goers slamming his flavored sparkling vodka, using it as an excuse to remove even more articles of clothing.

Two things I find humorous and interesting here….1) Marketing an album called Detox with beverages that get you intoxicated and 2) the marketing tie with alcohol when Dre’s history and previous albums speak to another substance of choice. I wonder if one of the sparkling vodka flavors will be “Grass.”