Music and Dance: Beyond Copyright Text?
Professor Charlotte Waelde
Higher Education Institute
School of Law, University of Edinburgh
How does the law protect and promote the work of those who create innovative forms of music and dance? Think of the collaborative and performance based music and dance genres that make up so much of contemporary creativity in this field such as the saxophone improvisations of Anthony Braxston, the mash-up culture of contemporary popular dance music, digital musical sampling, and Edouard Lock’s ballet, Amjad. Many assume that the law of copyright enables the creators of such experience-based works to exert control over their outputs and, relatedly, to obtain a monetary return from exploitation. But is that really the case? In 1710 the law of copyright emerged as a property right giving the power to exert control over the printed word. This law has, ever since, exhibited an obsession with text and text-based creations. Where does that leave extempore or carefully crafted creations not recorded in writing and which also demand immediate audience participation for full appreciation of nuances embedded within the performance?
Through the observation and recording of selected forms of music and dance and the interview-based investigation of underlying creative processes, this project will seek to determine whether the law really is apt to protect these types of works. It will analyse the findings in relation to contemporary discourse on cultural policy and cultural economics showing how these shape understandings of the role of the ‘creative economy’. The project will consider how creative economy thinking relates to copyright and intersects (or not) with the music and dance forms studied. In so doing this project aims to deepen understanding of how innovative art forms might best be protected by law and exploited by their creators, ensuing they remain part of our rich and culturally diverse creative heritage.