Government intrusion in music draws mixed results

Parker Reed

With public school budgets being cut more and more, most of these establishments are looking for ways to cut down on costs. Because of this, many music programs are being cut throughout the nation and worldwide.

“The danger of cutting [music] programs is that it’s pretty hard to put it back in,” said Mike Giles, senior lecturer in music and theatre. 

The United States isn’t facing this trend exclusively; the U.K has taken measures into its own hands to make sure that music is accessible to all students who have a desire to learn.

In 2011, the U.K. government enabled the “The Importance of Music” plan, which will give all students an opportunity to play a musical instrument for at least a term.

“This is part of the government’s aim to ensure that all pupils have rich cultural opportunities alongside their academic and vocational studies,” according to an official release from the U.K government.

Besides providing opportunities for potential music makers to discover their passion, the government is also responsible for censoring and regulating that same music when it is released.

Many artists in the music industry are requesting that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) be revamped to better suit the current state of the internet and its users.

These artists argue that many sites such as YouTube and Tumblr make big profits from the content they created and are not being fairly compensated for.

“The growth and support of technology companies should not be at the expense of artists and songwriters,” reads a petition signed by Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry, among others. “The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law two decades ago.”

The DMCA was enacted in 1998; a time when original content on the internet was sparse compared to today and was much easier to identify copyright infringement.

Now with a surplus of original content available on the internet, it has become next to impossible to enforce all of the rules and protect every creator’s products.

YouTube has been under fire recently because of its attempts to enforce these copyright laws. In the process of protecting certain properties, it has inadvertently harmed other creators’ content that was using the original product under Fair Use.

Fair Use is a legal doctrine that permits the use of certain copyrighted material “… for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder,” according to the doctrine.

Many channels on YouTube are dedicated to uploading audio files of certain songs to the site for casual listening, with no credit going to the artist. In this instance it’s fair to penalize the uploader, but others are being treated the same for the fair use of a product.

“Piracy is a problem … you have the right to stop it, but not at the cost of freedom of speech. And fair use is freedom of speech,” said Doug Walker, a YouTube content creator.

It is important to properly credit the creators and artists responsible for providing entertainment to the public, especially in an age when streaming services such as Spotify compensate the artists very little.

“And sure, some mistakes can come from [Fair Use] too, but not nearly as many as the system that is in place now,” Walker said. “Not at the cost of common sense.”