Waves Vienna Conference: Copyright

At the Waves Vienna Festival & Conference various issues of the music industry were explored. The debate on copyright was not only held on a factual, but also on a personal level. The panel participants spoke about their viewpoints as music creators, but also tried to take the positions of music consumers into consideration.

Above all, it is particularly important to define the term. Panel host Rainer Praschak (mica – music austria/AT) divides copyright into the basic categories of personality rights and exploitation rights. Personality rights involve the name of the artist and the protection against distortions and adaptions of the artist’s work. In turn, exploitation rights can be sectioned into two subcategories that deal on the one hand with reproduction and distribution, and on the other with the communication to the public.

It is generally agreed that “anti-copyright” campaigns still exist because there is no profound knowledge on the proper definition and its meaning. Instead there is only a circulating vague idea, which hardly involves the true needs of music creators. Bernhard Kern (Siluh Records/AT) emphasizes that there is especially a lack of awareness in the area of music production. It is obvious that albums do not grow on trees, but the production costs are underestimated by the masses.

Christof Ellinghaus (City Slang/D) takes a stand for a modernization of copyright law. His idea refers to the anonymity of YouTube users that highlight their videos with music from others and put them online. Technically, the licenses and sync rights should be checked during the synchronization process of image and sound, but in the case of YouTube there is no consensus on these matters.

Ellinghaus argues that in most cases personal data has to be specified in other Internet applications. This should also be introduced for users of video platforms, in order to ensure that no money is being made with the illegal use of music and that it is only restricted to private use. However, in the way of this stands the issue of data privacy and security.
According to Kern, streaming platforms are a step in the right direction. In this sense, music is accessible for daily use, but the listener can not “own” the music. The experts acknowledge that the use of file sharing sites is slowly decreasing and the incentive to actually buy music is growing.

As positive as these small steps on the long road may be, certain institutions are still lagging behind. In particular, the AKM, the Austrian Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers, was criticized. Not only the three panel speakers, but also words from the audience confirm that a backward system is a liability to a much needed change.

One of the major problems of the AKM is the data management. For example, instead of a clear description of how many times a song is played on the radio, the bill is split down to the smallest detail, which results in incomplete data. In addition, the transition to the streaming application Spotify has not yet been realized. In order to be registered by the AKM as an artist that is played on Spotify, there have to be at least 1000 plays of a song.

No matter if pro or anti,  the campaigns are not capable of changing the system of the AKM alone. The generation of today’s young people and children has to be educated about what it means to download music and share it via phone or self-burned CDs. The casualness of being able to own music without paying for it has to be changed.

Panel: Copyright
Speakers: Bernhard Kern (Siluh Records/AT), Christof Ellinghaus (City Slang/D), Bernhard Fleischmann (Musician/AT). Host: Rainer Praschak (mica – music austria/AT)


[Photocredit: Maria Hammer ©]