So yesterday I spoke to you all about book piracy and copyright issues. And now I’m back for a second round, this time squarely aiming at the music business. Now, my opinions on the piracy of music in the “I’ll just download it for free” type of piracy are that it’s wrong but that it’s the way the world is going, and so the music industry is going to need to learn to adapt.
But that’s not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk primarily about Parodies, and their place in the confusing and murky world of copyright law.
Today, “A Newport State of Mind”, a brilliant parody of Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind which had amassed tons of viewers on Youtube in the last month was pulled down after a complaint from EMI that the song had infringed upon their copyright.
Now technically it’s certainly fair to argue that a parody is a derivative work, and that derivative works are indeed covered under copyright law (except when used for research/criticism or news reporting) Noone would argue that.
But at the same time there is a level to which parody has always been used to not only imitate but in many ways criticise and comment on the original work, and I would argue that to some extents that is exactly what Alex Warren and Terema Wainwright were aiming for when they created “Newport”. Instead of speaking in the idealised tones that the original did of New York’s “concrete jungle”, indeed they list everything wrong with Newport and try to pass it off as the greatest city on earth all at the same time.
Add to that the fact it’s clearly free advertising for the original track, the pulling of the video just seems to conflict slightly with common sense.
In this world of ever evolving social media, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to see where the lines on copyright law stand, and in the next few years I wouldn’t be surprised if there are radical shifts both in the way we receive music (probably with a move towards complete DRM free downloading and sharing being the norm), and the way in which Record labels make money – while physical music sales are declining live revenue has been growing exponentially as more people have more access to more music. Sites like YouTube will be the home not only to the music videos that you would once have watched on MTV, but also fan made videos, covers and parodies like this, hopefully without “the man” stamping all over it.
I mean come on lads: Newport State of Mind: CLEARLY A JOKE, not making any money, and frankly, not a threat to EMI’s bottom line, so WHY BOTHER?!
p.s: if you’re interested, you can still see the video here, where it hasn’t been pulled, because obviously: copyright infringement is only copyright infringement once its had 1million views on youtube, and not before then (EMI’s blatant hypocrisy/stupidity/whatever you wish to call it, showcased for all to see.)