Books, Music Business
Sydney: Australian Copyright Council May 2013, 47pp.
ISBN 978 1 920778 27 9
Reviewed by David Mayocchi, March 2nd, 2014
If you thought the world of copyright was confusing enough, read Websites and Social Media and you’ll realise that the internet has added a new layer of complexity to the lives of musicians, artists, writers and critics.
The plethora of on-line forums, blogs and audio distribution platforms that have emerged in recent years have created global channels not even imagined when Australia’s Copyright Act was enacted in 1968. Lawyers and the other gatekeepers that oversaw content distribution in the past have been largely by-passed in an on-line world where DIY avenues of distribution also bring new levels of responsibility.
During my time working in the arts, I’ve encountered plenty of confusion about copyright. If you record a Nick Cave song with your friends and post a video of that on your band’s Facebook page, how many permissions do you need to be sure you’re not breaching copyright?
The answer is lots and it’s the reason that publications from the Australian Copyright Council are so valuable. An independent non-profit organisation that provides accessible, practical and reasonably user friendly advice to content creators and consumers, the Australian Copyright Council’s recent publication, Websites and Social Media is a great resource for anyone wanting to understand their rights, responsibilities and potential liabilities in the on-line environment.
At the most basic level, copyright enables those who create content to have control over its use. If you have a band website, it’s likely that most of the material on there is not yours. Possibly your web developer owns the source code for your website, a film-maker has copyright over your video, photographers own the images, a recording engineer owns the recordings, a critic owns the reviews you posted and maybe Nick Cave owns the compositions. If you’re not sure, then read Websites and Social Media and you can start to work out the permissions and licences you need, now and in the future.
The on-line world means you even need an awareness of international copyright law. Work that is public domain in Australia might not be in the US or Iceland. If your website is accessible there, you could be liable for a copyright infringement. It’s worthwhile undertaking a copyright audit of your website, so you understand your level of risk. And if you do receive a copyright infringement notice from someone, it’s best to reply rather than ignore it. With the advent of powerful search engines, copyright creators are getting better at finding their work and letting you know when you are using it without permission. Some photographers are now even sending invoices to website owners that display their work without permission.
Websites and Social Media is an excellent short guide that helps artists learn about their copyright responsibilities in the on-line world.