This week on our Media Asset Creation class we began with the discussion of Copyrights. During my Bachelor's Degree in Broadcasting, I took a law class and we discussed the topic of copyrights, especially Media related copyright law. We covered censorship, trademarks, music and art copyrights. A lot has changed after that class. On the "Fairy Tale" video, I saw how, basically, copyright holder (artists) can own the rights of their work, almost forever. When I took the law class, the artist had the right of their work during their lifetime and 75 or 50 years (depending of the medium, music, paint) after their death. Now, by the fair use act, works can be used as long it is a short amount of the work that is used for teaching, critique, illustration of a topic. For me, Fair Use is still a very thin line, in the area of education. What if a movie producer or a musician doesn't want their material use for educational purposes?
In the Good Copy, Bad Copy movie there was an important point that was brought to the topic of the music industry. If the user pays an "x" amount of dollars for connecting on the internet and download or use the music to their liking, the user will be spending almost the same amount of money that he/she spends on a music store. Could this mean that the music industry can't control what the public wants, and what musical output they want from their favorite artist?
It's not that artist shouldn't get payed for their artistic output, but we have seen how musicians rebeled against record companies for not allowing them to do the work they want, and now they support the same companies that "restrict" their creativity (does Metallica vs. Napster rings a bell?). How many musicians "used" part of other musicians' songs/music as a base for their own music? Let me give you a couple of examples: the guitar riff at the end of the "Ballad of John & Yoko" by The Beatles, is the same guitar riff of "Lonesome tears of my eyes" by Johnny Burnett. "The old man down the road" from John Fogerty sounds almost the same as "Green River" from Creedence Clearwater Revival, in which Fogerty was a member and main songwriter and which the former members of CCR sued Fogerty for plagiarized himself, but the judge decided in favor of Fogerty after listen him playing both songs with his guitar in court (listen to both songs on the You Tube videos below). Keith Richards once said that we are like sponges and absorb everything we heard. Not a direct quote, but if you want to listen to him, I recommend to watch "The History of Rock and Roll: Guitar Heroes".
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River
John Fogerty: The Old Man Down the Road
Finally, on the movie side, Nigeria has come up with a smart way of promoting their movie industry. They can't copy or pirate the productions they do over there, but they can copy all the productions outside of Nigeria.
* Image from: Freeimages.co.uk