Week 4 – Blog 4: The Importance of Moral Rights Within the Music Industry

Copyright laws play a huge role in the music industry. A key aspect of todays musicians and the music economy is the world of moral rights. Moral rights provide artists with the right to be identified as the creator of various materials such as a song for example. Aurele Danoff (2006) states that the grant of moral rights would entitle a musical artist to the protection of every single aspect of each creation, including the protection and respect for the artist’s moral intentions. (Danoff. A. 2006)

They can be extremely useful rights for a musician, for example, in 1993 George Michael was granted a pre-trial injunction by the court of appeal preventing the release of a range of numerous Wham! Songs called the ‘Bad Boys Megamix. The court went on to find that the release of the Megamix would be in breach of Michael’s moral rights as it was “capable of being distortion or mutilation of his work amounting to derogatory treatment.” (Roberts, M. 2011).

You could argue that artists are vulnerable to having their work manipulated and scrutinised by others. Robert Bird & Lucille Ponte (2007) say that when an artist creates, she produces something that allows others a glimpse into her individual human consciousness. (Bird, R.C. Ponte, L.M. 2007) Therefore, need to be dealt with very carefully from a moral standpoint.

Aside from the George Michael example, a huge case over in America shows that moral rights are still a major issue within the music industry of various countries. American pop singer Connie Francis filed a suit against Universal Music claiming that Universal had allegedly licensed several of her recordings for use in sexually themed motion pictures that distressed her and violated her moral rights as a musician and a rape victim. (Self, H.L. 2003)

Overall, I would argue that moral rights reward the creators of the industry and stop others from taking advantage and benefiting from their work. They should be carefully supported by the organisations involved such as a record label for a musician. However, I would argue that there are limitations to the process as moral rights do not directly apply to every circumstance.

References

Bird, R.C. Ponte, L.M. (2007). PROTECTING MORAL RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED KINGDOM: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES UNDER THE U.K.’S NEW PERFORMANCES REGULATIONS. BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL. 24 (213), pp.220-222.

Danoff, A. (2006). THE MORAL RIGHTS ACT OF 2007: FINDING THE MELODY IN THE MUSIC. Pepperdine University School of Law. 1 (1), pp.183-184.

Roberts, M. (2011). Legal Protections for Musicians – Moral Rights. Available: http://www.soundcounsel.co.uk/legal-protections-for-musicians-moral-rights/. Last accessed 29/03/17.

Self, H.L. (2003). MORAL RIGHTS AND MUSICIANS IN THE UNITED STATES. ENTERTAINMENT, PUBLISHING AND THE ARTS HANDBOOK. 165 (1), pp.1-2.

 

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