Exam #2





Exam #2

Laws based on intellectual property have been rather significant over the years. The fact that one’s creation may gain protection under a legal foundation enables individuals to gain comfort in knowing that their ideas and innovations are legally protected. Patents and copyrights are an essential aspect of laws based on the protection of intellectual property. In this respect, it is evident that both components ensure the safety of ideas or innovations on a legal basis. This line of thought is further reinforced by the numerous patents and copyright laws that have existed over time in an effort to protect different innovations within disparate areas. As an outcome, various ideas have come to fruition and consequently asserted a positive impact on the development of the society as a whole. However, it is imperative to consider the other side of the implications asserted by intellectual property laws, especially in a complex and competitive environment. While patents and copyright laws have allowed the innovations and ideas of people to be protected from malicious uses such as duplication or replication, they have been positioned as barriers to people’s creativity in different areas of participation. More specifically, it is important to ask whether copyright regulations have imposed limitations on creativity in music.

Copyright laws do not consider change as an imperative attribute in development. Based on this point, Boyle (122) rationally asserts that copyright laws ultimately prohibit creativity or progression in music apart from shaping and encouraging the respective medium. In contrast to patent law, the laws of copyright assume that the ideas that are protected will not be built upon by the next generation of creators or inventors (Boyle 123). More specifically, copyright law relies on creative expression. For example, a certain song or work of art may be restricted from further use under copyright laws. From the initial phase, the respective edict will actually ensure the protection of the material and guarantee knowledge of the owner or the creator significantly. Over time, another user may declare interest in the use of the copyrighted material in order to improve it or use it for another material. In this sense, the material that will arise after the integration of the protected material will be deemed as a derivative work (Boyle 123). 

Undeniably, the use of the protected material without gaining access to permission from the rights holder may render the derivative work illegal. Another aspect of copyright laws that restrict creativity in music involves the edicts’ possession of certain words or phrases. Accordingly, copyright regulations “protect” the phrase in a creative structure such as a poem or a song, rather than innovations or facts (Boyle 123). Therefore, any individual that may attempt to incorporate any copyrighted work by using certain phrases or words without asking for permission may be penalized and sued for damages. This irrationality as exhibited by the respective regulations significantly affects creativity in music since it limits musicians from incorporating words or phrases that may actually be copyrighted. In fact, Boyle (124) acknowledges that the raw material that may be utilized by subsequent innovators may be possibly secured by copyright.

The limit to creativity as asserted by copyright laws has significantly affected African American musicians over the years. Accordingly, musical styles that have characterized the African American society such as gospel, soul, and blues have been applied in an effort to create secular songs. One such illustration involves the song, “I Got a Woman”, by Ray Charles, which possesses a melody and song structure pulled from the gospel song, “Jesus is All the World to Me” (Boyle 127). While copyright laws, which lasted for twenty-eight years at the time, were seemingly flexible, they were incapable of protecting the use of the respective styles from borrowing as well as reference by other musicians, especially African Americans due to commercialization (Boyle 129). White musicians such as Elvis Presley borrowed significantly from African American musical traditions such as soul and transformed them into genres and styles that were accepted by broader white audiences. Apart from commercialization, the borrowing and modification of the respective styles by white artists resulted in the establishment of intellectual property edicts that secured such forms hence restricting the “original community from borrowing back” (Boyle 129).

However, it is arguable that the song, “I Got a Woman”; by Ray Charles is simply a rewording of the hymn, “Jesus is All the World to Me”. In this respect, copyright laws imposed on Charles’ song remain significant despite possessing similar attributes to another song as identified by its possession of similar musical features such as motifs and chord progression (Boyle 130). Nonetheless, rather than undervalue Charles’ work, it is possible to note that the respective musician participated in an act of transposition rather than rewording or reworking by substituting emotive features with one another in order to create appealing and groovy music. In this sense, the act of transposition enabled Charles to establish and integrate the aspect of creativity within the realm of music by sampling and creating other songs. As identified, copyright laws are complex as identified by the implications of sampling and open-source software in terms of music creation. In this respect, it is possible to expand the respective system to the context of derivative materials and mashups (Boyle 158).  

Work Cited

Boyle, James. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Print.

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