Week 4: Moral Rights

The role of songwriter(s) as creating works of art, and publishers as a conduit through which to feed that music through to the wider world, has long been associated with cross-media placements. This, in its simplest and earliest form is the use of music in public spaces, as a tool for enhancing atmosphere; music’s use in restaurants as a backdrop to the dining experience was one of the major catalysts for copyright laws, with the acknowledgment that it played an important role in the ambience, image and style of any given setting. Nowadays, as Anderton, Dubber and James (2013, chapter 3) point out, ‘new technologies offer new tools and vocabularies for songwriters as well as ‘new’ sources of income, such as video games, ringtones and sample clearance fees’. This is reiterated by current music advisory sites for musicians, such as “Music Clout”.

Sync companies offer a further conduit to the artist and publisher, with their role as scouting for potential works, listening to music’s attributes and speculating where they might best be placed, building relationships with multi-media companies and most importantly negotiating and dealing with legalities. As we move forward into an era of fewer artist ‘deals’ with ‘major’ labels, more independent labels and artists, and more sync opportunities, it is unsurprising that more independent sync companies have sprouted up, particularly in the USA.

The sync company model is to get an artist / publisher the best possible deal, often working on the ‘fairness principle’. As well as the economic rights warranted to artists and publishers, there are also moral rights, or “personality rights” (Future of Music Coalition, 2016). These rights include being credited accordingly, being anonymous if so desired and to prevent the use of work if it risks offending or discrediting its creator(s). They are summed up as Attribution, Anonymity and Integrity. In the case of the latter, there have been recent examples aplenty in relation to the use of music in the political campaign of Donald Trump. The idea of not ‘selling out’ is still seemingly at the forefront of many artists minds in relation to their art. Though, this has shifted from the idea of being used in advertising and other forms of media, towards an emphasis on in what and how their work is used.



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