Is Copywrite a Cultural Bias?

When I listen to Tango music, it doesn’t even cross my mind that the particular version of the song I’m hearing had been produced by at least a dozen other bands and that it was basically freebooting (not viewjacking, because that’s specific to only video…). This could just be sanctioned because most of the musicians and orchestras were friends with one another and had their own cool kids club, but I feel like most of them genuinely didn’t care if another orchestra played their song. Perhaps they’d feel a slight indignant if that orchestra claimed it was their original, but I think many of the tangueros at the time were just happy to be playing great music rather than claiming it as their own.

This kind of positive, collaborative community may just be a circumstantial and irreplicable example, but it makes me wonder: is copywrite just a cultural thing? Is it just Anglo and European world that cares about ownership of creative endeavors, or at least of music?

Let’s look at folk songs: people seldom know their creator. It was just something passed down through generations in a land. Nobody cared about being the owner of it.

There’s a logical answer to all this, though. To why copywrite became a thing. It’s money. The Argentinian orchestras were paid for their performances rather than for the originality of the songs they performed. Nobody cared if they produced La Cumparsita or Por Una Cabeza if they couldn’t perform it well. Conversely, nowadays people do get paid more for being the originator of their song. There are certain exceptions of course, but in the world of Dad Rock it was looked down upon to be a cover band.

While I think the extreme inflation of copywrite regulation in the US has had more to do with certain film companies rather than the music industry, it has definitely lead to an entirely different atmosphere than what we historically have had.


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