The Copyright Laws for the Music and Book Industry

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.



Works Cited


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


Menand, L. (2014, October 5). Crooner in Rights Spat: Are copyright laws too strict. Retrieved from


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











  1. Hi there, it looks like you have done a lot of research on this topic, which is great! You made a claim in the introductory paragraph, and proceeded to back it up with data that was quite convincing. While I wouldn’t say this topic is original, you did a good job of giving an introduction to this topic.
    In the first short paragraph, you have 6 citations. I feel that it is highly unnecessary to have that many citations in one paragraph and while having your work on the Internet might be scary, not everything needs to be cited. For example, you do not necessarily have to cite the fact that artists are able to find different avenues, as that is common knowledge in today’s society. Throughout the whole paper, as it is only 1500 words roughly, you have 22 citations. I would love to have seen more personal ideas instead of reiterating what someone else said.
    In the first paragraph, you go on about how technology has affected the music industry and you go into much detail about how a record label works and a bit about the copyright behind music. The second paragraph is more about how technology has made an impact on the book industry. Going back to the syllabus and looking at the description, it says that we should “Find points of convergence and divergence in the role technology has played in the development of the two industries” While you have done a great job looking at the industries separately, instead of a third paragraph on the copyright history, it would have been beneficial for the reader to see how the two industries converge or diverge. By stating the history of copyright laws and explaining the processes of illegal downloading, you are simply allowing the reader to put the pieces together instead of stating the question of why. Rather than have such a long paragraph on copyright, the third paragraph could have been used to dig deeper into how the music industry is like the publishing industry. In saying that artists have a choice of how they release their music, you could compare that to how the authors can choose how they put out their writing through the many ways that was talked about in class.
    You did a good job of having a solid first paragraph sticking to one topic, but in the second topic, it feels choppy as if you were trying to draw in too many concepts. Stick to how technology makes a “big impact” on the book industry. List reasons why and leave the copyright rules to the last paragraph. The quote about cutting out the middleman is a great spot to note how the music industry also can cut out the middle man. The last paragraph on copyright feels out of place. Yes a lot of the topic has to do with copyright, but the paper topic is about comparing the two industries, and I feel there should have been more comparing and less about copyright. Use copyright as an example of how it makes the industries similar, as that seems to be the main comparison, but use it to convey your argument instead of listing facts about copyright.

    I would like to have seen better organization on the paper, a suggestion would be to explain the copyright laws in the first paragraph, and go into how technology has affected the music industry, the book industry, and then a final wrap up of it.

    (Side note/recommendations.)
    As I am not sure if this is how you regularly write, I would suggest that you try and cite less and bring out your own arguments and then back it up with a quote. Much of what I read here was stating other’s arguments and ideas. While you did not add quotes for everything, a lot of what you write was cited and it was hard to find a sentence without a citation. If you are worried about accidental plagiarism, I would suggest just writing out what you think about the topic, and then finding quotes to back up your arguments after.

    • A spot-on analysis of the shortcomings of the paper. One point of disagreement, or perhaps clarification, is that the problem is not the number of citations per-se. It is the way in which they are used. Using the same source leads to the paper reading as a summary, and less as the author’s point of view backed up by sources.

  2. This essay touches on a topic that is dear to my heart, copyright. However, it does not adequately address the similarities or common issues of copyright between the music and publishing industries. Instead, it presents a summary of a few key readings (good choices) but not a distinct point of view.

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