When you think about the publishing and music industry, there are many similarities between the two. They are both industries that provide entertainment for their audience, an avenue to send a message and provide thought. With the introduction of the Internet, both the music and publishing industry have been greatly affected. The creators now have an opportunity to publish their work in a different outlet and are no longer relying on corporations to distribute their work. However, even with these amazing opportunities, they face new challenges in this digital realm. The biggest obstacle for both industries is online copyright. This paper will be discussing the similarities that both industries face dealing with material that is posted online.
The Internet has brought a lot of changes to the world. Traditionally we have large corporations as the ones who have all the power. In terms of the publishing and music industries, the big publishing companies and the record labels are the ones who have the finances to promote, distribute and pay the authors and the artists (Day, 2011, p. 63). First, I will be discussing how the Internet has made an impact on the music industry.
According to Brian Day, record labels have the manpower to invest in artists, but only “10-20% of artists are commercially successful… and 5% of the new artists will generate a profit great enough to cover the losses of other unsuccessful artists” (Day, 2011, p. 63). So rarely do all artists become successful. In the past, artists would sign with a large record labels in order to have a chance to make it big (Garofalo, 1999, p. 342). However, nowadays with the Internet and the new technologies, artists are able to find different avenues to release their music (Day, 2011, p.63). Traditionally, record labels and the artists would enter a contract with terms discussing “profit-sharing, recoupment and upfront advances” (Day, 2011, p. 64). Nowadays, artists who have not signed with a record label have control in both the business and creative aspect of their music (Day, 2011, p. 64). The most important aspect of not signing with a record label is that the artist owns the “copyright to the music they record, along with the rights to any and all licensing royalties received therefrom” (Day, 2011, p. 64). Day questions whether we even need record labels in order to release music since many are using the advanced technologies to release it themselves and websites such as YouTube, MySpace and etc. can be a platform for artists to release their work.
Similar to the music industry, technologies have made a big impact on the book industry. In the past, the big publishing houses were the ones who had the resources to promote, print and distribute books (Thompson, 2012, p.111). They were the ones who called the shots in the industry (Thompson, 2012, p.111). Therefore when the Internet became an option for authors to take advantage of to release and promote their work without going through the middleman. However, even though the Internet has been a great tool, it also holds a lot of danger for the authors. The advancement of technology has created an uncontrolled space where the boundaries of copyright are undefined (11th Circuit Decision, 2014, p. 3). The advanced technology that has been a useful tool for the author can be used against them as well. Although copyright laws are strict nowadays, it is still harder to monitor online (Menand, 2014). In Louis Menand’s article, he said “according to Tru Optik, as many as 10 billion files, including movies, television shows, and games were downloaded in the second quarter of the year” (2014). Not to mention, almost “94% of these downloads were illegal” (Menand, 2011).
The copyright act protects the author and their work from being reproduced illegally (Menand, 2014). The copyright law started with giving the authors fourteen years of ownership and making a profit of their work (Menand, 2011). However the term changed and it is now “life plus 70 years,” which means that the authors have the rights to their work until they die plus an extra 70 years (Menand, 2011). Although, copyright is meant to protect creative work from being reproduced and distributed without the author’s consent, the digital space has made it difficult to implement this law. Due to the sheer amount of illegal downloading, authors and publishers are taking legal actions to those who are providing the technology for others to share the author’s work (Lemley & Reece, 2004, p. 3). Instead of suing the individuals who are illegal downloading, the authors are taking it out on the facilitators (Lemley & Reece, 2004, p. 106). To prevent illegal downloading the authors and the big corporations have been suing the websites that they believe are responsible for the peer-to-peer sharing (Lemley & Reece, 2004, p. 3). The websites that are being sued are the ones who make the software for people to share the files, people who “provide the tools to crack encryption,” and “search engines that help people find infringing material” (Lemley & Reese, 2004, p.3). The reason why authors are suing the facilitators instead of the individuals who committing the crime is based on economics. It is not plausible for the authors to sue a million people for downloading their work (Lemley & Reese, 2004, p. 106). By suing the facilitators, the author would likely be able to have a larger payout then if they go after the illegal downloaders (Lemley & Reese, 2004, p. 106).
The music and book industry have been greatly affected by the advanced technologies. It allowed authors and artists to be able to connect with their fans and audience directly and is a source of freedom in terms of being able to express themselves without the control of a large corporation. Furthermore they are able to retain the copyright of their work. Yet, because the digital realm is such a highly uncontrolled space, violation of online copyright is still a big issue today.
Lemley, M. A., & Reese, R. A. (2004). Reducing digital copyright infringement without restricting innovation. Stanford Law Review, 1345-1434.
Thompson, J. B. (2012). Merchants of Culture (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press
Day, B. (2011). In Defense of Copyright. Retrieved from http://law.shu.edu/Students/academics/journals/sports-entertainment/upload/Day-Defense-of-Copyright-3.pdf
Menand, L. (2014, October 5). Crooner in Rights Spat: Are copyright laws too strict. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/crooner-rights-spat
Garofalo, R. (1999). From Music Publishing to MP3: Music and Industry in the Twentieth Century. In Vol. 17, No. 3., American Music (318-354). University of Illinois Press.
11th Circuit Decision. (2014, Oct 17). Nos. 12-14676 & 12-15147. Pages 46-50. Retrieved from http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201214676.pdf