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CDs & The Law

Copyrights and Political Issues

Copyright laws are designed to give the exclusive right to copy and publish one’s own work and are under the juridiction of the Performing Rights Organization. Therefore the copyright owner has the sole right to duplicate or authorize the duplication of his work, and distribute it. There are seven characteristics used to define the Copyright Act. These include author, works, ownership, copies, phonorecords, sound recordings and publication.

Political ramifications within the CD industry tend to be two fold. First they must consider how individual rights affect the entire music industry. Second they must also take into account copyright infringement, specifically in the CD industry.

Some examples of these types of issues:

First amendment rights

  • Parents Music Research Council attempted to censor material that was deemed to be pornographic or injurious to the nation’s youth.
  • In 1986, Wal-mart refused to carry heavy metal recordings because of inappropriate cover art and offensive messages.
  • In 1992, the music group 2 Live Crew was banned in the US because of contraversial lyrics.
Copyright infringement of or by artists
  • Sampling or Covering: An artist must pay for permission to use part or all of a song.
  • "How deep is your love": Ronald Selle sued the Bee Gee brothers for an alleged infringement of this song. However, they were not prosecuted because it was found that there was no way for the Bee Gee brothers to have heard his version before creating their own.
  • Fear of Piracy: With the advent of new technologies such as CD burners and MP3, artists face the risk of having their work reproduced and distributed without their permission.

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Last Update: April 4, 2000