Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Copyrighting Music!

In the Copyright law, I noticed that one cannot prepare derivative works based upon copyrighted work. Now in any art form, like music, that seems like an enormously difficult thing to enforce in an objective fashion. All music is derived from basic constructs like notes, chords, octaves, harmonics etc. Indian music is largely derived from Indian Classical Music which is essentially a large repository of well defined "ragas" which in turn are derived from a finite set of "thaats" and "melakartas". There exist higher level abstractions that are shared across different musical compositions. In a nutshell, simplest of music compositions have so many dimensions that one can, in theory, find commonalities across two seemingly disparate music compositions. In fact, deriving and augmenting is the way music evolves. Against this backdrop, laws written with such broad strokes reek of ignorance on part of lawmakers. They dont understand and dont care enough to try and understand the art and science of music. 
There is a big difference in protecting the  actual composition and specific digital recording of its rendition from distribution without compensating the creator and preventing or hindering other artistes from getting inspired by existing music creations. We have seen the fallout of allowing plagiarism through derivative works and I must say it pales in comparison to the loss to the evolution and spread of music that we will see if this particular clause in the law is enforced.


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