Guest Book Review: Copyright in the Music Industry

Readers may know that this Kat enjoys writing about copyright and music from her postings, and during the first lockdown she penned a book on the topic, titled Copyright in the Music Industry: A Practical Guide to Exploiting and Enforcing Rights. 

Dr Sabine Jacques is Associate Professor in IP, IT & Media law at the University of East Anglia and author of The Parody Exception in Copyright Law (OUP 2019), she has kindly provided the follow review of the book: 

I was particularly looking forward to reading Bosher’s book and I was not disappointed (not least because it comes with its own Spotify playlist to immerse the reader into the exciting world of copyright law)! This small book of 220 pages covers all the areas of copyright law which a musician should care about. The book is divided in 5 parts and comprises no less than 22 chapters. 

Part I lays the foundations starting off with why musicians should care about copyright law in the first place. Often seen as complex, Bosher convincingly summarises the reasons why copyright is essential to the music industry and the principles on which it is built. The second chapter provides a simplified overview of copyright concepts ranging from legal instruments to objects of protection, threshold of protection and formalities. Exploring the copyright protection subsisting in a song, Chapter 3 provides an enjoyable account of the genesis and scope of the different layers of protection from the music sheet, lyrics, melody, sound recordings to the artwork. The foundations being laid, chapters 4 and 5 look at what copyright actually grants in terms of rights and what it does not protect. The reader is also briefly exposed to moral rights, mainly in terms of attribution and integrity rights as well as image rights. Looking at what is not protected by copyright law, Bosher predominantly focuses on fair use and fair dealing exceptions to cover activities such as sampling and musical parodies. 

 Mesmerised by copyright law
Image: Sabine Jacques

Moving onto Part II which focuses on copyright management, Bosher takes the reader through ownership issues, music industry intermediaries, contractual relationships, licensing deals and social media exploitation. Recalling chapters 4 and 5 on rights and exceptions and limitations, chapter 7 provides important clarifications to debunk the myth that registering with a collecting rights society is enough to derive remuneration from the exploitation of the works. Depending on the rights at stake, the works need to be registered with the appropriate collecting rights societies to receive the entitled revenue (provided that the registration and all the data is correctly submitted, and records are kept up to date). The chapters on contracts and licensing also provide valuable information as most of the copyright provisions’ application may be circumvented by contractual clauses. As Bosher says, ‘you do not need to be a legal expert for copyright information to be helpful to you…but at least this way you will have some idea of what they are on about’ which then puts music creators in a better position to understand the ramifications of what they are signing and to communicate a position to the other contractual party or lawyer. Not only raising awareness as to the importance of contracts in the music industry, Bosher looks at the most common agreements found depending on the activities the artist decides to delve into. Chapter 10 focuses on some uses on social media, namely Tik Tok and Instagram, demonstrating the importance of contractual clauses through the interplay of Terms and Conditions applicable on these platforms. This chapter also paves the way to a more in-depth analysis of infringement issues in Part III. 

Beyond providing a general view of concepts involved in infringement cases, chapters 11 and 12 are full of real-life examples and helpful summaries for those less familiar with copyright law. To keep the reader on the edge of their seat, Bosher attempts at explaining the fine line between inspiration and infringement before tackling the contemporary issue of how sampling activities qualify under copyright law today. Spoiler alert, you are better off securing a licence! Finally, the last chapter of this part looks at counterfeit goods such as unlawful merchandising.

Having explained what copyright does and situations in which infringement occurs, Part IV deals with enforcement of copyright by looking at how and where one can initiate a claim, where it can be brought, jurisdiction issues, the type of evidence which can be relied on (with a very interesting section on the role of musicologists in copyright cases – p. 195) and which remedies can be expected. Unsurprisingly, many of these cases are settled outside of court, it is therefore useful that Bosher covers settlement deals within this practical guide (chapter 16). Given the day and age in which we live in, readers will particularly appreciate the attention given to online copyright infringement (chapter 20). Here, Bosher walks you through online blocking injunctions (which require the intervention of a judge) and notice and takedown procedures (which can be done without the intervention of a judge). 

This book would be incomplete without providing an outlook towards the future of music industry and the copyright questions which lie ahead. Chapters 21 and 22 respectively focus on AI-related issues (mainly ownership) and the use of blockchain. Without jumping on the blockchain bandwagon with closed eyes, Bosher recognises the advantages of the technology for licensing and identifying the alleged infringer but also warns about the problems which come with the technology such as the possible permanency of wrong data inserted, security, privacy and liability concerns. 

Overall, Bosher’s book comprehensively covers a wide range of issues in a very accessible manner. Whilst predominantly aimed at musicians and music creators, this book is valuable to anyone interested in or working at the intersection between the legal world and the music industry. There is no denying that copyright law is more than just another admin task on a creator’s to-do list and should be seen as a central part of a musician’s workflow. The way in which the author simplifies and debunks common copyright myths makes this contribution a must-read for any music creator who would rather avoid engaging with copyright law. It avoids the usual legal tone to provide the reader with an enjoyable and highly readable copyright guide including numerous well-chosen real-life examples. Accessibility being key, this guide is also available as an audio book.

Last but not least, Bosher started a podcast series with Jules O’Riordan (entertainment lawyer and former DJ) where they interview songwriters, music creators, musicians and other stakeholders to discuss contemporary copyright issues such as the inquiry into music streaming in the UK.

Needless to say that this is more than ‘just’ a book!


ISBN: 978 1 83910 128 1

Author: Bosher, Hayleigh 

Published by: Edward Elgar

Released: 2021

Format: Paperback, hardback, ebook and audiobook

Price: £65 (paperback)

Pages: 272

Guest Book Review: Copyright in the Music Industry Guest Book Review: Copyright in the Music Industry Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Wednesday, May 05, 2021 Rating: 5

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