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The Business of Music$
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Michael Talbot

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780853235286

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846312717

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Illegality and the Music Industry

Illegality and the Music Industry

(p.195) 7 Illegality and the Music Industry
The Business of Music

Simon Frith

Liverpool University Press

The music industry is dependent on the law. Paradoxically, legal argument on music practice implies that the law has less authority in the music industry than in any other business. A copyright regime seeks to protect works and their authors from unlicensed copying. This chapter examines the extreme difficulty, both conceptual and practical, of treating popular music as property protectable by law. It then shows how identity politics, which implies that the individual or subcultural is more important than the corporate or societal, encourages illegality as a way of ‘getting back at’ the system. The chapter also discusses the complexities of plagiarism or sampling law and suggests that, far from being an anathema, ‘copying’ is normal in pop music-making.

Keywords:   music industry, business, copyright, law, illegality, plagiarism, popular music, identity politics, copying

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