Music and dance: beyond copyright text?
School of Law, University of Edinburgh
Are experiential, experimental forms of music and dance beyond protection by copyright? If they are, how might these art forms best be protected by cultural policy and cultural economics? These were the key questions that we set out to investigate with the support of a Beyond Text grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and with the help of our network members where together we formed an interdisciplinary team comprised of experts in copyright law, cultural policy, cultural economics, dance and musical composition. Through a series of interviews with musicians, singers, songwriters, composers, dancers, choreographers and others involved in the music industry and dance community we came to the conclusion that these types of works are both before copyright and beyond copyright. They are before copyright because what matters to the majority of those involved is the process of creation – which itself is constantly evolving – rather than the product – the protected work once fixed. They are beyond copyright because key aspects of the performance involve contributions which are not recognised by copyright, and because there is much about the performance which simply cannot be captured in the mechanical sense. As a result, policy intervention, which focuses on the product rather than the process, becomes problematic. This article suggests a series of practical recommendations made by our interviewees for ways in which the art forms may be supported into the future.
SCRIPT-ed, Volume 8, Issue 3, December 2011, pp.257-291