Leading The Charge To Reclaim Copyrights

Leading The Charge To Reclaim Copyrights
George Clinton

Sunday, October 30, 2011

P-Funk at Brooklyn Law School

P-Funk at Brooklyn Law School
by Ryan Thompson (court@brooklyneagle.net), published online 10-20-2011

Parliament Funkadelic’s George Clinton Joins Local Attorneys Monday To Discuss Music and Copyright LawBy Ryan Thompson
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
George Clinton with President, Chancellor and Deans
of Brooklyn Law School
JORALEMON STREET — Funk music mastermind George Clinton is coming to Brooklyn Law School.
Clinton, singer and leader of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic in the 1970s and ’80s, will join Brooklyn Law School Professor Jason Mazzone and Manhattan attorney Michael Elkin on Monday evening to discuss music and copyright law.
Perhaps there is no better musician than Clinton to discuss such legal issues, as Parliament-Funkadelic’s music and distinctive “P-Funk” style continues to not only be imitated but sampled in various hip-hop songs today. Clinton, who is now 70 years old, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over a decade ago.
Using Professor Mazzone’s new book, “Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law,” as a springboard for the discussion, Clinton and Elkin, a Brooklyn Law graduate and managing partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, will examine the challenges faced by today’s artists and music labels, the impact of digital technology, and possible reforms that could benefit the listening public.
For full coverage of the event, see an upcoming issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle & Daily Bulletin.
Copyright, Composers and Hendrix
WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg invoked her fellow Brooklynite Aaron Copland. The chief justice countered with Jimi Hendrix.
The high court’s generational divide was on display earlier this month as the justices heard arguments about whether Congress acted properly in extending U.S. copyright protection to millions of works by foreign artists and authors that had been in the public domain — meaning they could be performed and used in other ways without paying royalties.
Community orchestras, academics and others who rely on uncopyrighted works are challenging a 1994 law that made copyrights available to the foreign works. Google, with its YouTube and digital art and library projects that depend on works in the public domain, is backing the challenge. Composers, authors, songwriters, photographers and others who depend on copyright protection are urging the court to uphold the law.
Copland and Hendrix were Americans — Copland from Prospect Heights in Brooklyn and Hendrix from Seattle, Washington. The two justices used them to illustrate differing views of the case.
For the 78-year-old Brooklyn-born Ginsburg, the case appeared easy. She talked about two Russian-born composers, Dmitri Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky, whose works were never copyrighted in the United States. A copyright allows artists, or the copyright holder such as a deceased artist’s estate, a fixed period of time in which they can permit or deny others the right to use or reproduce their work or demand a royalty payment for doing so.
“What’s wrong with giving them the same time Aaron Copland got?” Ginsburg asked the lawyer representing the law’s challengers.
Chief Justice John Roberts was 14 years old when Hendrix performed his “distinctive rendition” of the “Star Spangled Banner” at the Woodstock music festival. Roberts, now 56, voiced concern that Hendrix’s freedom of expression could have been compromised under the government’s argument.v “Assuming the national anthem is suddenly entitled to copyright protection that it wasn’t before, he can’t do that, right?” Roberts said.
The court ruled in 2003 that Congress may extend the life of a copyright, but it has never said whether published works lacking a copyright could later be protected. The case argued Oct. 5 concerns a 1994 law that was intended to bring the United States in line with an international agreement.

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