Why is copyright important?
As a manufacture of Music & Video projects for over 20 years ProCopy takes copyright matters seriously.
We have been liaising with MIPI, Aria, Amcos and Apra for sometime on a very important issue that affects all creative artists in Australila. That is the reduction of their income due to lack of control over the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials. Of course this no longer is just limited to music, but now impacts on video content such as independent and mainstream documentaries, Films, books, education programmes and software development. In general people no longer seem to want to pay for other people intellectual property and products.
In many cases purchasing legal versions is not that expensive (for example direct download of software has reduced the supply chain margins). Music is available in many legal download sites for around $1.00 a track, CD, DVDs and Blurays have reduced in price substantially, maintain the quality of the original recordings and represent the hard work of an entire industry and investment in non profitable ventures that normally wouldnt see the light of day.
Creative expression manifests in many forms and people's ideas and income should be protected (if they so desire) in order that they can make a living from that idea in the future. The rights to that product or idea should be able to be traded, sold or bought at the control of the originator.This is the part of the copyright equation that is being undermined by current technology and peoples mindsets.
What many fail to realise is that it eventually it will reduce choice rather than increase, it may well reduce quality of product too. If mp3 copies are considered OK now (compared to a high quality recording) what will become acceptable in the future?
To some extent the music industry has been it's own worst enemy, Bands freely give away whole tracks on Myspace or their own websites in the often mistaken belief that people will go out and buy it again on a CD, There appears to be no real evidence to support this at this time. In the last 12 months digital download sales growth has reduced by 50% and Physical media has continued to decline slowly. So although there is a lot of hype about digital content being the saviour of the industry - overall music sales have declined globally by around 8-9%
So what can be done to protect the income of the creative community?
Bodies like APRA, Amcos, MIPI and Aria have to work out what people are prepared to pay in order to legalise the process of music copying and regain stability in the industry. As many have said before we are in a transition period of content delivery and this electronic delivery will get easier and faster as the NBN is implemented in Australia. We have yet to see a strategy developed in this area, but education about the implications, reinforcement of the benefits and enforcement of copyright has to be a priority
Education starts with understanding the various areas of copyright:
In our specific area of interest - the music industry, there is generally more than one owner of copyright in any given musical recording. It's basically broken in to the areas of Songwriter, Publisher and mechanical (those that own a specific version of a recording) The composer who wrote the music owns copyright in the musical works. The lyricist who wrote the lyrics owns copyright in the literary works. The artist who performed the music owns copyright in a sound recording in their live performance. Finally, the maker of the recording (typically a record company) owns copyright in the mechanical sound recording. (in the past that could have been Edison Cylinder, 78, 33 record, cassette tape, 7 Track cartridge and maybe on CD, DVD audio, SACD or memory stick today). Digital downloads generally are falling in a new category and laws & contracts are being adapted to encompass this area.
What copyright covers
Broadly speaking when someone creates a piece of music, piece of text, a graphic, software, a photo, a film or anything else that is protected under copyright laws, there is a whole system of legal rights and obligations that comes into play. These rights and obligations outline what someone can and can't do with the material. Copyright approval can be granted to make a copy or use the works by the artist or usually their legal representative. Depedning on the usage, the fee to do this is generally negotiable, although there are some industry guidelines. In most cases these fees are very affordable for legitimate use of the product.
How to move forward with your next recording
Like us as a manufacturer individuals have obligations to ensure that they have covered all the bases when it comes to copyright approvals of their projects. Often copyright approval takes weeks and can delay a project if not done, So submitting approvals and even checking before the recording process will save vital time. After all there's no point finding out that you cant get approval on one piece (or music sample) and having to remix an entire album.
DJ Mix tapes are a cause for concern as often mixes are shared around, obtained from soundcloud or similar sites, then remixed and the original song samples may not be documented - however the songwriters copyright in the original track still exists and has to be covered. The new mix version of course also has mechanical copyright which belongs to the new author of that version. (APRA and other royalties are due to that person if that version of their song is performed or broadcast and they are missing out on income if they don't register their own version).
There is often a misconception as to what is considered a "music sample". There is no fixed duration acceptable or not acceptable. The basic rule of thumb should be whether or not the section of music is readily identifiable or recognised as belonging to another track.
Here are some MIPI documents that cover more information on the subject of copyright and our obligations:
Further contact information can be found on the documents including website addresses.