Malfunction Junction

I want my music to be viral; I want to be paid for my music. I can’t have it both ways. It’s not copyright infringement that more people need to understand, but the Fair Use Doctrine.

Quoting from the blurb under the video:

“ABC-The Jackson 5
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

R.I.P. MJ”

The poster believes his use of the Jackson 5’s ABC is fair, apparently because he receives no remuneration, yet he allows Google to collect ad revenue, and promotes his other videos using MJ’s music; who should pay MJ’s (or the writers’) kids?

The DMCA does a pretty good job of specifically defining what constitutes fair use; you’re allowed to make backup copies of CDs you buy, even use commercial music to underscore your home movies, so long as they’re not broadcast to the public at large, which in my opinion, is what happened here. But are the writers of Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream going to sue Boyle, Google and Britain’s Got Talent? I think not.

My personal view is that there’s nothing wrong with people making mixtapes and mashups for each other in a social context; home tapers have been doing this for decades, and it’s a form of free promotion that helps artists and helps music, but we shouldn’t confuse MP3 files with music as the artists intended it to be heard. We need to establish a level of quality for which the writers and performers must be paid, and get the public to agree. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?


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