Why Copyright is Copy-Wrong for the Music Industry



Faculty Mentor

Keith Hatschek

Document Type


Conference Title

31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research


Council on Undergraduate Research


University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

Conference Dates

April 6-8, 2017

Date of Presentation



The current system of copyright in America is damaging to both the public and potential creators. Key players, such as major record labels and music publishers, remain hyper-focused on the lost revenue from traditional record sales, and as a result are unwilling to address the overly expansive copyright climate and its negative effect on the creative process. However, in the wake of several key copyright decisions, most notably the 2015 judgment regarding “Blurred Lines”, scholars and musicians alike have been prompted to reconsider the application of copyright in today’s industry. This research project argues that current copyright law adversely affects the creation of music today by imposing stringent regulations that limit both the flow of ideas and their use. The often forgotten goal of copyright is to promote the flow of ideas, and therefore creativity and progress, through maintaining a healthy repository of public domain works. Weaknesses in current statutes are exposed by the author through an examination of the often-arbitrary nature of copyright litigation and the evolution of copyright infringement measures, as well as a rebuttal to the popular assertion that constraint breeds creativity. Regardless of individual opinions, two things are certain: the present copyright system is dysfunctional and ill suited to meet the needs of stakeholders, and a change is necessary to accommodate an evolving society.

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