Minggu, 31 Januari 2021

Viral sea shanties on TikTok exposes America's broken copyright system - Business Insider - Business Insider

sea.indah.link
  • The sea shanty craze on TikTok shows how exciting it is when a wide range of creators can collaborate to build something entirely new. 
  • But most copyright laws weren't designed with social platforms and virality in mind.
  • Rightsholders have lobbied for longer and broader copyrights that provide the basis for high-profile lawsuits that threaten to limit the "creative space" for contemporary artists.
  • Christopher Buccafusco is director of the Intellectual Property & Information Law Program at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When Nathan Evans, a 26-year-old Scottish postal worker, began uploading videos of himself singing sea shanties to TikTok several months ago, "going viral" may not have been on his mind. But as with all stories of virality, the beginning is less important than what happened next. 

The 19th-century sailors' songs that blended European and African melodies and rhythms with lyrics about life at sea are now the internet's biggest musical sensation. And their popularity shows us what's great about contemporary culture and creativity, and what's wrong with modern copyright law.

Origin of the sea shanty craze

When Evans' rendition of "The Wellerman," a 19th-century New Zealand whaling song, caught fire, first one TikToker and then another recorded themselves singing different vocal parts on top of Evans. Within a few days, a dozen people who had never met in person, singing thousands of miles from one another during the height of a global pandemic, had recorded a beautiful tune that has been enjoyed by millions of others. 

I love these sea shanties, not just because they've brought me enormous happiness during a pretty dark period of human and personal history, but because of how they illustrate some important themes about contemporary creativity.

Creativity is collaborative 

First, creativity is and always has been multivocal. We tend to focus on the artistic genius of individual creators, but virtually all successful creativity represents a blend of different people's talents. Although it's tempting to criticize a singer for not writing her own songs, no one complains that John Wayne didn't write his own lines. Creativity is a shared enterprise.

And creativity isn't just shared across space but also across time. Too often, when we think of past creativity, we focus only on a small handful of "classics" that have enduring value into the present. But the past — or as we copyright nerds call it, the public domain — is an enormous trove of creative opportunity waiting to be rediscovered.

These conditions differ from those that existed when most of our copyright laws were enacted. Hours of studio time and expensive editing equipment were needed to produce albums that then had to be stamped on vinyl or etched onto CDs. If the album was a flop, all of those expenses were wasted. 

Copyright law is broken

Rightsholders like Disney have used these arguments to lobby for longer and broader copyrights that lock up more of the past for longer periods. Copyrights now last for the length of an author's life plus 70 more years — far longer than needed to recoup the costs of contemporary creativity. 

But copyright law does get one part of creativity right. For over a century, musicians have been allowed to record other people's songs without their prior consent if they pay them a royalty. Copyright law calls these "mechanical recordings" after their origin in player piano rolls, but we know them as cover songs. So while Taylor Swift's songs will probably still be subject to copyright in the year 2200, people will be able to re-record them, in sea shanty versions if they like, if they pay her heirs a small fee. 

Unfortunately, most of copyright law doesn't work so well. Illogically, recording an entire song is cheap and easy, but incorporating a portion of someone's song requires negotiating what could be a very expensive license — or risking copyright infringement. 

Consider the practice of "beat leasing." Musicians create beats that they let other artists borrow for a reasonable fee. Most of these leases are nonexclusive, which means that lots of artists can work with the same underlying beat. Recently, however, indie musician Caleb Hearn learned that the beat he had leased for a song that became a viral TikTok sensation had been bought out by a record label to compel him to sign with them. Thanks to copyright, an opportunity for sharing between multiple creators is undermined by an assertion of ownership.

Copyright is premised on the notion of exclusion — that copyright owners need exclusive rights to copy and distribute their content. But songs, like bottles of rum, are meant to be passed around. Platforms like TikTok allow unknown creators from around the world to come together cheaply and easily. Too often, copyright locks the booze away and only lets the captain get drunk.

The Link Lonk


January 31, 2021 at 05:28PM
https://ift.tt/36tezVV

Viral sea shanties on TikTok exposes America's broken copyright system - Business Insider - Business Insider

https://ift.tt/2CoSmg4
Sea
Share:

0 Comments:

Posting Komentar