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Working paper Open Access

Intellectual Property Values: What Do Musicians Talk About When They Talk About Copyright?

Street, John; Phillips, Tom

Based on interviews with musicians who sit on the margins of the music industry and for whom music is not their main source of income, this paper reports on how these artists and performers think and talk about copyright.  If, as many suppose, the business of making music is more and more about the distribution of rights, how are these rights understood and deployed in the practices of these musicians? What are these rights seen to protect and to what end? The paper explores these questions by considering how aspiring musicians think about ‘music’, about themselves as musicians, and about the relationship between copyright and wider social values. It reveals that their attitudes are often a mixture of the pragmatic and principled, where that pragmatism is not simply linked to money, any more than principle is solely about the musicians’ claims as creators. Information can be more valuable than cash; loyalty to their fellow musicians more prized than the recognition of individual talent. 

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