Classical music, copyright and collecting societies

Inglis, Brian ORCID logoORCID: (2018) Classical music, copyright and collecting societies. In: The Classical Music Industry. Dromey, Christopher ORCID logoORCID: and Haferkorn, Julia ORCID logoORCID:, eds. Routledge Research in Creative and Cultural Industries Management . Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 7-31. ISBN 9781138203693, e-ISBN 9781315471099, pbk-ISBN 9780367512262. [Book Section] (doi:10.4324/9781315471099-2)

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This book chapter examines the relationships between classical music, copyright and collecting societies. The fixed, original, single-authored work concept is fundamental to modern copyright law. It is also strongly linked, musically and philosophically, with the eighteenth-/nineteenth-century Austro-German canon, which itself forms the core of standard classical repertoire. This concept, then, still underpins our legal understanding of musical copyright today, including in more widely disseminated popular music repertoire where it is both less relevant and more problematic, as explored in the critiques of Toynbee (2004) and Moy (2015). Classical music publishers featured prominently in the foundation of the UK's Performing Right Society in 1914, where the interests of ‘serious’ music were well represented up until the end of the twentieth century. Since then, the relationship between this Society and the classical music community has been more equivocal, and a key rupture in this regard was the removal in 1999 of the Classical Music Subsidy, which attracted considerable media attention. The chapter examines this case study with extensive recourse to contemporaneous documents produced by the Society and its composer and publisher members, as well as interviews with interested parties. It is contextualised with an overview of international collecting societies’ distribution policies in the twenty-first century. Finally, the cross-disciplinary academic near-consensus that has emerged since 2000—that radical steps are needed to reduce the strength and extent of legislative copyright protection—is scrutinised. While this stance is undoubtedly not shared by the music industry, viewing the debate through the lens of contemporary classical music offers a nuanced perspective on this frequently polarised discourse. This moves the agenda on from simplistic characterisations, e.g. creative remixers ‘heroically’ standing up to greedy, philistine corporations, or, conversely, struggling artists and entrepreneurs ‘robbed’ by piratical thieves and fickle legislators.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 24377
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Classical Music Industry on 01/06/2018, available online: or
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Depositing User: Brian Inglis
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 16:56
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:52

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