An Invitation to discuss at Un-Convention Manchester, 4th – 6th June 2009
Recently an organisation called Featured Artists Coalition was formed to give a lobbying voice to performing artists wishing to protect and advance their rights in the music industries. We find this a positive, admirable and understandable move for musicians.
We believe that most musicians create primarily for artistic and cultural reasons, and that while the commercial benefits are critically important (and we do understand the imperative for music to create economic reward), this is not the purpose of music. Moreover, music as culture is not represented at any policy level and so important decisions are being made without consideration for the cultural aspect of music itself.
When commerce is the only consideration, we believe the cultural, social, intellectual and artistic life of the citizenry suffers. Innovation suffers and the creative economy is hamstrung as a result.
For instance, the vast majority of all recorded works ever released (estimates place this in excess of 90%) are not currently commercially available in any form. This represents a phenomenal wealth of cultural capital that is locked away and inaccessible simply because it is not considered commercially expedient for the labels to make it available, and there is no incentive or imperative for them to do so.
In addition, scholars and archivists are unable to preserve, develop, access and expand knowledge around works that are bound in restrictive copyrights. As a result, when approached from a purely economic perspective, understanding of popular culture becomes limited and the commercial interests and profit motives of entertainment corporations are held to be more significant than the growth of human knowledge and understanding.
These are critical issues for a healthy, creative and vibrant nation wishing for competitive advantage in the 21st century. While we fundamentally support fair and equitable reward and incentive for creative artists and accountability to them on the part of the institutions of music business, we believe that to consider music solely as a commercial domain misses its most important aspect.
We hope that the following suggestions will promote discussion, debate and further ideas for the consideration of Music As Culture, its central role within what is perceived as the music industries, and its place in social and cultural policy-making:
- Active expansion, promotion and propagation of the public domain;
- The release of commercially inactive or economically inviable works into the public domain under a ʻuse-it-or-lose-itʼ copyright clause;
- Strong fair use and non-commercial use provisions;
- Permission for non-commercial use assumed for all orphan works;
- Strong copyright exceptions for libraries & scholarship;
- Active support for archives & long-term (1000+ year) preservation of culture;
- Reduction of copyright term, but renewable for active commercial works so as to reward creators without lockdown of cultural works in the process;
- Creation of a central, online register of copyright works that is free, open and unambiguous;
- Audit of major record label back catalogue to discover and liberate lost works;
- The establishment of an open framework and distributed archive of public domain and Creative Commons licensed works and a repository for unreleased works that artists wish to contribute;
We wish to hold a discussion meeting for all interested parties at Un-Convention Manchester on 4-6 June, 2009.