Who is the real “little guy” in copyright battle?

Posted on: October 26, 2011

Monday (10/24) on San Francisco Classical Voice, Mark MacNamara writes, “On Oct. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Golan v. Holder, the copyright case that tests the right of Congress to extend protection to older works in the public domain. The decision will be handed down at the end of term. … Beyond all the technical arguments, the debate in bar rooms and bistros is around money and what’s fair and who the real ‘little guy’ is in all this. I spoke with someone who has a professional tie to the case and did not wish to be identified. As this person put it, if you think the ‘little guy’ is just the composer, you’re forgetting the little publisher and the little engravers. … Corey Field, an attorney who has worked in the music world for many years and at one point represented European publishers, takes this argument further. ‘Where does the money go that publishers charge? Part of it is paid out in royalties, but the reality is that most of the revenue from successful works goes to support new composers. As a music publisher, you are engaged in the practice of bringing along new talent, and new composers usually don’t generate a lot of money. It’s not like pop music. Think of Mahler. With classical composers it’s about the quality and quantity of work over time.’ ”

Posted October 26, 2011