Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Burying Music with the Copyright Power

The Chronicle of Higher Education tells how an act of Congress retroactively put millions of musical scores, books, and other manuscripts under copyright protected long after they have become part of the commons (public domain), and how this act in effect placed a huge tax on citing, performing, and reading of these texts. Some scholars are fighting back. The story illustrates some points: copyright has nothing to do with property rights or justice or the integrity of a work, but is rather a legislative monopoly favoring well-heeled companies; copyright is not about the creator and the need to be compensated, but is rather about large institutions protecting themselves from competition; copyright isn't about the promotion of works of art, but rather its restriction and burial. It is for this reason that these legislative methods of publishing ought to be totally eschewed within the world of liturgy in favor of common ownership and distribution.