Home » General Interest » A Sour Note in the Same Old Song: Determining and Protecting Ownership Rights in the Digital Age By Cory VanDyke

A Sour Note in the Same Old Song: Determining and Protecting Ownership Rights in the Digital Age By Cory VanDyke

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“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”1 When this lyric was wailed by reggae legend Bob Marley in 1971, the music industry was very different than the one in which artists currently find themselves. Today, the music industry is almost synonymous with “pain” as an increase in illegal downloading has resulted in a large amount of financial loss and legal turmoil. From 2004 to 2009 alone, over thirty billion songs were illegally downloaded, resulting in an overall global market decline of approximately thirty one percent.2 In an effort to thwart digital piracy and protect their works, the recording industry has brought suits against over thirty-five thousand private individuals.3 Though litigation against individual consumers seems to be subsiding, a more important legal battle looms on the horizon due to a change in copyright law that took place nearly forty years ago.

The Copyright Act of 1976, which actually took effect in 1978, arguably gave many musicians the ability to reclaim copyrights in their original creations, starting thirty-five years after a grant of copyrights was made, effectively terminating any rights that the artists may have granted (e.g. to record companies) when their songs were first recorded.4 On … Read the full text …

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