Statewide Singalong causes a Copyright Lawsuit


There will always be a new controversy in the ever changing music industry and the copyright laws that protect the artists and songwriters.  Panay outlines current issues with new media and copyright infringement that artists and record labels are struggling  with in Rethinking Music: A Briefing Book.  An example of one of these issues can be found when examining the new Pure Michigan tourist commercial.

Pure Michigan launched a campaign to incorporated citizens in towns across Michigan capturing all of the wonderful reasons why Michigan is a wonderful place to visit and start a business.  To link all of these shots of people, the campaign has everyone singing along to an adaptation to “Good Time” sung by Owl City and  Carly Rae Jepsen, and written by Lee and Matthew Thiessen. The week long road trip campaign was called “The Pure Michigan Statewide Singalong.” 

While Pure Michigan receive approval to use the song from Universal and posted the commercial on YouTube, Sony Music Publishing informed YouTube of secondary copyright violations and YouTube removed the video which had nearly 2 million views.  Pure Michigan said after receiving approval they were not made aware of any secondary copyright claims by Universal.

This misunderstanding points out a growing problem in the digital musical world of copyright.  Who’s job is it to inform the user of the law?  Should the record company be required to spell out all terms of usage of their music or should be user take the initiative to and verse themselves in the expansive copyright laws? While rules and laws keep piling up, it is easy to start pointing fingers at who is to blame, but the problem lies in informing the public of the laws themselves. 

-Sarah E. Lempke

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