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Music Copyright Moments in History

This is a brief timeline of some interesting music copyright moments in history. I have cherry picked a few high-profile issues/cases that represent different angles of music copyright evolution.

As an amateur musician and music lover, I’m interested in innovative models of production and distribution in the music industry. I think we can learn a lot by understanding how we got to a place of music being treated as property. I am trying to get a better idea of what this looks like from both sides of music copyright protection. 

Most recently, I am interested in protections in regards to traditional knowledge and cultures.

I would love to add more to this eventually–and am open to more entries in the comments!

Like Jennifer’s copyright timeline, I used JS Timeline for this, and their easy WordPress plugin.

Published inIntellectual Property


  1. Chris Lott Chris Lott

    1. murica!

    2. Perhaps the funniest thing was the person objecting to the “Happy Birthday” song on musical grounds.

    3. Metallicca?

    4. I don’t disagree with Gillian Welch, but I do wonder at the sense of entitlement. Not in a a negative way, but very literally: why do musicians assume proportionately more often that they *should* be able to make a living through their art? The legacy of labels? Of rock stars?

    5. Related: what term is reasonable for that entitlement to last if it is accepted? At what point do Marving Gaye’s descendants finally get to stop living off art they had nothing to do with creating?

    6. I love that Jessie J. song. It’s one of those songs that sounds as good in many covers as it does in the original.

    7. Have you come across any interesting resources/readings about protections for traditional knowledge and cultures?

    8. On the dubious plus-side of over-zealous copyright *and* filesharing and such are those innovations in production, marketing, distribution and associated services. Do you have any favorites?

  2. Curtis Rogers Curtis Rogers

    I love the format of the timeline. You certainly hit all the high spots.

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