Music and Law, a Progressive Combination

By Richmond Adu-Poku -
Art & Culture Music and Law, a Progressive Combination
JUL 14, 2009 LISTEN

Music and Law: one may wonder what they have in common. I call it a progressive combination, because the law provides protection for the music maker, ensuring he/she obtains fair rewards for his/her creative efforts. The law protects your works in several ways: from piracy and other forms of infringement. It also assists in several other ways. Here are a few examples-

· Copyright- gives you control over the exploitation of the works

· Moral Rights- ensures your efforts are recognized

· Contract Law- assists you in getting fair deals for your creative efforts

· Synchronization Rights- make you benefit for the use of your works for advertising, TV productions, videos, films, etc.

· Performing Rights- creates revenue for you from air-play on various broadcast networks like radio and TV, Live performances, etc.

· Mechanical Rights- generates revenue from recordings, reproductions and sales of cassettes, CDs, etc.

· Digital Transmission Rights-create revenue for the use of your works on the internet and other digital media including translations, adaptations, etc.…

In a nutshell, the law is your ticket to prosperity and success in the industry. It is thus critical to know at least the very basics that will put you in an elevated position to benefit from your sweat and tears. The law is also preventive i.e. thwarting unauthorized users from encroaching on your rights as intellectual property owners. Thus proper use of the law puts revenue in the pockets of owners. It is thus incumbent on all music owners to be savvy about their business, at least have an overview of legislation relevant to their areas of operation. Knowledge of the law is power, and lack of it results in poverty and deprivation.

Copyright proponent, Helen Shay quotes Oscar Wilde in her acclaimed book, “Writers' Guide to Copyright & Law”, stating-

“If a man knows the law, there is nothing he cannot do when he likes”.

This is very true and all music rights owners must endeavor to find out what the Law says about their creations. In fact, they should go beyond that and input into the process of making laws to govern their operations. You can choose to use the law, break it or ignore it. It is obvious that the best option is to use the law, as the other two carry grave consequences, and definitely at your own peril.

Knowledge of the law gives one confidence and a clear advantage when it comes to resolving disputes, as you will operate from a position of strength and reach a good settlement. You also benefit from your sweat and tears, as your awareness of your rights puts you in a position of power and influence, making you smile all the way to the bank as you benefit from varied uses of your works to enhance other people's businesses.

Anytime your creative works are used commercially, a royalty is generated, and only those who know their rights stand to benefit from the revenue generated. You are also able to negotiate favourable terms in contracts. Another advantage is that through the law you get to decide how your property is inherited. You are also able to tackle effectively any infringement on your rights in your works, by not only engaging legal practitioners, but assisting them with vital information they may need in the process of instituting legal action against infringements on your rights. It is important to note that the object of Copyright Law is to ensure the owners gets recognition for their creative works and also benefit economically from its use. At this point in time, permit me to quote Article 27.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (1948), which states “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic productions of which he is the author” Check out a few other very interesting quotes pertinent to this discussion, gleaned from a CISAC document- “The authors of literary, musical, artistic and scientific works play a spiritual and intellectual role in society which is to the profound and lasting benefit of humanity and a decisive factor in shaping the course of civilization”

“A work of the mind is at one and the same time a manifestation of the author's personality and an economic asset”.

The time has finally arrived for practitioners in Music and other facets of the Arts to influence what laws will govern their operations. The time for action is NOW! Yes- NOW OR NEVER!!! Let us empower ourselves with knowledge of the LAW, and make our emancipation from mental slavery complete! Those musicians, songwriters, producers and other practitioners who focus on acquiring knowledge of their rights under the Law, are the ones who stand to benefit economically and socially in all their endeavours.

Music and Law are partners in progress- a progressive combination indeed!

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