Media & Communication Department

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danahy Rachael Danahy
The Rise of Intellectual Property Laws: An Important Regulator Within the Music Industry or Creativity Inhibitor?

It's easy to see that in the year 2007, intellectual property laws have come under strain in response to society's rising obsession with digital media. In today's world, with the right software, anyone can steal music with the click of a mouse. There is no question that this is a potentially devastating problem for the recording industry. In response, laws have become more strict and penalties more severe for the illegal pirating, trading or sampling of copyrighted music. The current controversy over intellectual property laws lies between those inside the corporate world-those that claim ownership over the music-and the artists and listeners who feel they are being unjustly inhibited from making or consuming the artwork. In early 2004, artist Danger Mouse produced The Grey Album, which was a "mashup" of instrumentals from The Beatles' The White Album put to lyrics from Jay Z's The Black Album. Many have claimed that it is a work of genius, and a highly interesting and compelling record; however, EMI/Capital Records launched a massive campaign to put an end to the album's legal existence on infringement grounds. According to communication scholar Kembrew McLeod, there is a rising brand of activism that has emerged in response to the tightening grip of intellectual property law, especially after the backlash over EMI/Capital Records' handling of The Grey Album. Both sides of the fight for and against intellectual property laws have their fair share of just argumentation. However, both sides are missing something fundamental; my paper argues that it is time to reassess notions of authorship and ownership with regard to intellectual property in today's digital society.