Saturday, August 09, 2014

How to Minimize Music and Maximize Profits – Do Moral Rights Matter?

A Calgary radio station, 90.3AMP,  has been playing condensed versions of popular songs. The station is using a third party named Sparknet to shorten the songs.  Here and here and here’s some coverage.

Just to think – maybe a 90 second or two minute version of the Beatles' five minute “A Day in the Life” or Arlo Guthrie’s  23 minute “Alice’s Restaurant”? After all, we already know the “tune” and how the stories end. Who needs boring choruses anyway?

One would be surprised if actual performers or composers (musicians) are involved in this process. They are those sometimes pesky people who support the huge corporate music industry and occasionally show a desire to be treated with respect and their fair share of economic reward. A few of them occasionally succeed in these  mostly unrealized aspirations. Moreover,  according to Canada’s Copyright Act, ss. 14.1 and 28.2, musicians actually have “moral rights”, which quite possibly could be violated by the unapproved abridgement of a work or performance if it results in prejudice to the creator’s honour or reputation. It would not be surprising if many musicians have been forced to “waive” these rights in favour their record companies. However, even if there is a “waiver”, it would be interesting to see if could apply in this type of situation and whether any record companies would authorize any radio station to invoke it.

It will be interesting to see if  Music Canada, SOCAN, Re:Sound or other organizations that exist only because of the creativity of musicians  react to these reports. But, so far as I’ve seen or heard, it’s been radio silence.

By the way, the only musical shortening of which  I absolutely and irrevocable approve and applaud and which has a strong Canadian connection is the late lamented  Anna Russell’s incomparable classic abridgment of Wagner’s four evening four episode twenty hour “Ring Cycle” of operas into a twenty minute hilarious and amazingly accurate condensation that will never be obsolete. One can be quite sure that the humourless and thoroughly obnoxious Richard Wagner (1813-1883) NEVER would have approved of this. Of course, this could also pass muster as a “parody”. Either way, it’s worth listening to and watching again and again….


1 comment:

  1. You'd think this might inspire SOCAN and Re:Sound to at least argue that 90.3 AMP should pay higher tariff rates because they are making increased use of those collectives' repertoire songs? As to those groups' silence regarding the creative infringement that AMP's actions represent; curious but not entirely surprising. Hopefully someone will speak up at some point.

    I agree on a copyright exception for Anna Russell's work. Similarly, to my knowledge Victor Borge never received any complaints about his comic treatment of classic tunes. Maybe talent makes some difference in these things...