Thursday, May 28, 2015
Music Business/Law Tips - "Freedom to Remix?"
Last year there was a brouhaha in the US Department of Commerce when it raised the issue of the creation of a compulsory license for derivative works, including remixes, mash-ups and sampling. Essentially, this would mean that anyone could do a remix of a famous song without obtaining the permission of the copyright owner. A similar concept already exists under Copyright Law which allows for a compulsory mechanical license to re-record (i.e., "cover") a song, so long as the cover maintains the fundamental character of the original work. However, a remix can substantially change a song, so most copyright owners want to maintain the right to approve as otherwise it could dilute the artist's and his/her music's brand. For most artists, approval over the use and change of their works is a big deal, and licensing is normally subject to a negotiation on such things as scope of the change, how will it be exploited, fees, royalties, a piece of the copyright in the derivative work, etc. Some artists like The Eagles and Lou Reed historically never approve any uses of their works. Others are fine with it. It's important to note that for some works there is already a Creative Commons right attached which does allow for anyone to remix, mash-up or sample a song. It remains to be seen if this issue will rear its head again in the halls of congress anytime soon as it was under review in committee - things move slowly in Washington. Stay tuned. Ben McLane Esq benmclane.com