Copyright is the engine of progress

Copyright is the guardian of the most precious skill: imagination.

"Imagination," said George Bernard Shaw, "is the beginning of creation". The ability to imagine is what sparks off ideas or feelings, which might then be transformed into a painting, a novel, a new invention or a piece of music. Copyright protects the expression of an idea; it encourages people to 'create'.

In our daily life, from the newspaper we pick up in the morning to a recipe for a new dish, nearly everything was created by someone. The fact that people can own the expression of their ideas means they can potentially earn a living by developing them.

For example if an individual comes up with a brilliant new painting and someone else simply photographs it and starts mass-producing prints, then the painter is much less able to make a living from his work. The laws of copyright are designed to prevent this happening.

The expression of their ideas belongs to people as much as the car or house or DVD player they bought. The individual's - or group's - interest in their ideas, and compensation for their time and effort, needs to be protected.

Music and copyright.

Copyright has existed for a long time, and has adapted to numerous changes in technology - from the printing press through the vinyl record to the CD, the digital file, and the internet. But the underlying reasons for copyright remain as important as ever. Copyright is a spur to artistic creativity, a basis for the business of music, and a way to let people who have a gift for writing, producing or singing to make a living doing what they - and their fans - enjoy.

When someone creates a piece of music (or a piece of text, a graphic, a photo, a film or anything else that is protected under copyright laws), there is a whole system of legal rights and obligations that comes into play.   These rights and obligations outline what someone can and can't do with the material.

For example, you can't copy a piece of work and pass it off as your own - as any student who's been lectured on plagiarism knows. You can't burn DVDs of a blockbuster film and sell them in a car boot sale. You can't copy software from computer to computer, or use a photo in an advert, or play a music video publicly, unless you have the permission of the person or company that owns or controls the legal rights in the work.   If that person's business depends on earning revenue from their copyright works, you might also have to pay for the permission to use the work.

Copyright in the digital world.

Copyright gives the people involved in creating music various rights over the copying, distribution, performance and internet transmission of their music. This includes protection for artists, composers, publishers and producers.

The rules vary slightly from country to country, and some countries allow limited copying and performance that is truly 'private'. However uploading music to the internet and other indiscriminate copying and dissemination of music files is an infringement of copyright if done without the rights owners' permission. This is not 'private' but very public copying, especially considering that nearly a half-billion users have instant access to material put on the internet.

If this sort of copying and distribution continues without regard for those people whose ideas, talent and skill led to the creation of music, they may be simply unable to continue to create - in which case all of us are the losers.

Support creativity - support copyright

The assistance of IFPI in creating this article is greatly appreciated

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