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Archived - Tagg, Philip

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Dear Sir/Madam,

I have been employed full time since 1971 to teach popular music studies, including music for moving images. During these 38 years I have had to contend continually with the conflict between providing students with insights into the workings of music in the modern media (i.e. doing the job for which I am paid as a public servant) and the constraints of copyright law which prevent me from doing that same job. Put simply, the workings of music in the modern media cannot be understood without analysis, analysis cannot be carried out if students have no access to the analysis objects, and I cannot provide access to most of that material without infringing copyright legislation in some way.

Since 1979, when my doctorate on television music was published, I have spent inordinate amounts of time trying to find ways of doing what I'm under contract to do without breaking the law. I've described the basic issues involved in a number of documents to which I take the liberty of referring you.

  1. "Copyright vs. the democratic right to know" (winning article in competition organised by, 2001–2002).
  2. YouTube counter-claims. Misunderstandings about scholarly and other fair use aspects of citation. How US law can help us in the democratisation of knowledge about music in the modern media.
  3. Background to the establishment of the Mass Media Music Scholars' Press (MMMSP), set up by Bob Clarida (media attorney at Cowan, Liebowitz and Latman, New York) and myself to facilitate the legal publication of scholarly musicological work that cites extracts of music under copyright.
  4. "Copyright and Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences" — A British Academy Review, September 2006. Pages 12–13 in the PDF version deal with the problems music scholars in my area face on a daily basis. The report is well informed and balanced. It is very critical about the way copyright law is interpreted and enforced in educational and research contexts.
  5. Given this experience, I am very concerned that changes to Canadian copyright legislation will be influenced by well-financed media industry lobbyists rather than by the interests of my colleagues and students who, I believe, should have the democratic right to know the inner workings of messages, including musical, circulating in the modern media. Serious researchers and teaching personnel should be guaranteed the not-for-profit right to make audiovisual analysis materials available to their students and to the general public according to Sections 107–118 of the Copyright Act, title 17,U.S. Code. Abuse (e.g. diffusing such material for financial gain) should of course be punishable but the dissemination of important knowledge about our culture and society must never be compromised.

Philip Tagg
Professeur de musicologie, Faculté de musique, Université de Montréal