Saturday, April 2, 2011

Week One Reading: Copyright Issues - Parts 1-3: Information Overload

Me on my Martin.  Photo by Curt Isakson

I think the title says it all.  Copyright on both sides of the wall is both a confusing and an important issue.  The creator needs to protect their art and be able to make a fair living, and user should have access to the work to be informed and inspired and be able to use these ideas for their work too.  Sometimes I feel this is a deeper and more complex subject than arguing Politics!

As a musician that has written, recorded, and performed many forms of music, I have been on both sides.  I have appreciated payments for my personal writings and performances, and I have had no problem paying for the rights to use others work.  Just last year I wrote a check to Hal Leonard for $100 that paid for the right to arrange and perform an Aerosmith song at graduation. So Steve Perry and Neil Schon received a few bucks from the kids at Shelby. Do many high school bands do that?  I doubt it.  Why shouldn't the publishing house and the writers gain from their work and their art?  No question there from me.

When talking to my students, they all believe that what ever is out there on the Internet is theirs for the taking.  This is where the concerned parties should be investing their efforts: in education.  This could probably save a tremendous amount of time and money in court if we could change and/or educate the students and the public early.

A valuable resource on copyright issues as it pertains to the music industry is at the Hal Leonard website.


  1. You raise a good point and show how the copyright law can be fair to everyone. $100 for rights to an Aerosmith song doesn't sound unreasonable to me. $500,000 to renew a license, as described in "Good Copy Bad Copy", does sound unreasonable, however. I need to look into the best practices documentation. Perhaps there are guidelines to setting fair license fees.

  2. Curtis,

    I remembered you are a musician, so I was particularly interested in your opinion on this very controversial issue. I am surprised you only had to pay $100 to Hal Leonard. I would have guessed that number to be much higher. You bring up a great point about educating the public. Publishers would indeed save a lot of time and money if they educated the public on the laws.

  3. Excellent reflection on the complexity and that it's an ever-moving target. I have had previous drama and band teachers say that they have to pay pretty big fees if they want to perform any of the music that they are learning. While I wasn't told how much they paid, they made it sound like it was high enough that it cut into any money they might have made if they were to charge for admission to the performances as part of a fundraiser. It really seems like education should get a pass because they are training future musicians and artists, but the ones holding the purse strings are not at all concerned with such things as the future of live performances. Ack.