Who Writes the Songs? Creative Practice and Intellectual Property in Popular Music’s Digital Production Chain #crassh3c #songwriting

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Discussion of the originality spectrum – is ‘newness’ defined by non-plagiarism from the Domain?

Joe Bennett (Bath Spa University): Who Writes the Songs? Creative Practice and Intellectual Property in Popular Music’s Digital Production Chain
In music, two objects can be owned – the composition (sometimes including a lyric as a ‘literary work’), and the sound recording. The separation of song and recording is the basis on which the music industry distributes monies, but equitable IP distribution becomes more difficult when creative individuals’ contributions (of melody, lyric, arrangement, performance or production) overlap or are non-­‐linearly created. In the 1960s it became increasingly common for performers to write their own songs; from the 1980s, democratisation of recording technologies gave songwriters and performers the opportunity to self-­‐produce; and by the early 21st century most digital home studios had more production power than the world’s leading studios had enjoyed only 30 years earlier. 1 These changes in creative context mean that songwriters no longer need to notate their work as they did in the early 20th century; production, lyric, melodic, arrangement and performance elements can be created, edited and adapted at any stage of the creative process. Non-­‐linear creative practice in song production has implications for ownership and copyright that may challenge the historical privileging of melody & lyric in popular music’s legal hierarchy. 2 This paper will provide examples of creative practice, and discuss the legal, musicological and ethical questions that 21st century song production presents for the music industry and for future music creators.

Here’s my own paper. I’ll be publishing work in this area soon. For now here are some examples from the slides plus the list of references.

  • Bellido, Jose. “Forensic Technologies in British Music Copyright.” In Sensing the Law, edited by Sheryl Hamilton, Diana Majury, Neil Sargent, and Christine Wilke. Canadian Initiative in Law, Culture, and Humanities, 2014.
  • Bennett, Joe. “Collaborative Songwriting – the Ontology of Negotiated Creativity in Popular Music Studio Practice.” Journal of the Art of Record Production, no. 5 (2011).
  • Bennett, Samantha. “Revisiting the ‘Double Production Industry’: Equipment Manufacturing, Consumption and the Music Technology Press in the Late 2000s.” Helsinki, 2010.
  • Bently, Lionel. “Authorship of Popular Music in UK Copyright Law.” Information, Communication & Society 12, no. 2 (March 2009): 179–204.
  • Boden, Margaret. The Creative Mind : Myths and Mechanisms. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2004.
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. “Society, Culture, and Person: A Systems View of Creativity.” In The Nature of Creativity : Contemporary Psychological Perspectives, edited by Robert Sternberg, 325–39. Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  • Demers, Joanna. Steal This Music – How Intellectual Property Law Affects Musical Creativity. University of Georgia Press,, 2006.
  • McIntyre, Phillip, and Justin Morey. “Working out the Split”: Creative Collaboration and Assignation of Copyright across Differing Musical World.” Journal on the Art of Record Production, no. 5 (2011).
  • Moore, Allan F. Song Means : Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song. Ashgate, 2012.

Take Me Out vs Can't Rely On You

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