Understanding the Relationship between Copyright and Music

Understanding the Relationship between Copyright and Music

Nov 06, 2012

So many questions:

  • What are your (copy)rights as a composer?
  • How do you protect them?
  • What if you want to use someone else’s music?
    • For a homework assignment? Or a classroom performance? 
    • Or to showcase the amazing work that your department produces?

And a path to finding the answers:

The ORPC collaborated a few weeks ago with the UNH Music Department to host a seminar, “Understanding the Relationship Between Copyrights and Music”. Our guest speakers were Peter and Kate McGovern, Senior Intellectual Property Teaching Fellows at the UNH School of Law and experts on copyright, entertainment, and music law. The McGovern’s introduced the concept of copyrights as relates specifically to music, the mechanics of making your music copyrights available, and recognizing the longevity of your copyrights. Perhaps most importantly, they emphasized and re-emphasized one critical message that all attendees needed to take home: the work that you create has value and you have to protect that value, whether for yourself today, for yourself in a few years, or even for your legacy planning.

The idea for this seminar has been percolating for awhile as our office worked with a few faculty members from the Music Department on projects that involved copyright questions. Over the summer, Tim Willis (ORPC Licensing Manager) and Chris Kies (Professor, Music Department) corresponded about a potential seminar, what should be included, seminar speakers, and who should attend. While they worked out some of these details, Professor Kies engaged his Music Department colleagues and all parties came on board for scheduling a seminar once the fall semester started.

The seminar took place in Bratton Hall recital room on Tuesday, September 25, from 12:40P-2P. We were thrilled to find that the room was packed with over 100 attendees – students, faculty, and staff! As many of us know, the time period mentioned above is an open period throughout the University’s daily class schedule, and I mistakenly thought this accounted for the wonderful attendance. I came to learn from Professor Kies, though, that this time period is typically used by students of the Music Department for rehearsals. With actions speaking volumes, the Music Department instead scheduled the seminar for this period and strongly encouraged their students (and faculty and staff) to spend the time learning about copyrights – essential to their everyday world whether as a composer, educator, or performer.

With cookies and two giant (and delicious) vegan cakes served on the side, we had an overwhelming success between the expertise of the McGovern’s, the prioritization of the event by the Music Department, and the insightful questions of the attendees. The seminar provided a foundation in copyrights and key issues to be aware of, and which can be the springboard for more detailed discussions in the future. Of equal importance, it also provided a foundation for additional ways that our office can foster relationships between UNH and the UNH School of Law. There are many more questions to be asked and discussions to be had across our campus, with a wide array of talent and expertise to participate in these conversations.

From patents to trademarks to copyrights to software, from computer science to art to family studies, we would like to bring other relevant seminars and speakers directly to you! Please contact me directly by sending email to maria.emanuel@unh.edu or call 603-862-4377 to discuss topics and opportunities that would be of interest to you, your department, or your classroom.

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