Proposal 2 (Society): Copyright Laws vs Mashup Artists


As I had mentioned in my first proposal, I am extremely interested in diving deeper into the ideas and issues of copyright laws and how they affect our society as well as the music industry. I have already touched upon the rules and regulations imposed by the government with regards to musical works.

These legislations and laws are put in to place to “protect” the creative works and minds of musicians. Now why did I put the word protect in quotation marks? Historically it has been shown that these laws are extremely successful in doing just that. It keeps other musicians from stealing works of art and claiming it as their own so that the original creators can be praised for the work that they have done. I am in no way saying that the creative geniuses behind musical works should not be protected and I believe these laws are a good thing. I do believe though that these laws are not up to date and should be rethought.

Music is always evolving and new musical genres are always being created. When The Beatles first started hitting the scene, many viewed the music that they made as “evil” music or just straight up noise. The older generation (at the time) thought they were an abomination to the music industry and were tainting “real art”. Now, we regard musicians such as The Beatles as almost musical messiahs and it is a godsend that we have copyright laws to protect their creations.

A new form of music has been spreading across the US and even partly throughout the world though. It is a major evolution in music with the technology that our society has created. It’s called Mashup Music. I am a huge believer in the genre mainly because I am a mashup artist myself and it’s a major way I express my musical talents and creativity. If you are unaware of what mashup music is, it’s a form of musical remixes where one takes vocals (or acapellas) from one song and lays them over the instrumentals of another song creating a totally new song. There are many different sub genres within the mashup music genre but I will spare the long details for now.

You can probably see though how this poses a problem to the music industry and copyright laws. Mashup music clearly takes samples from one previously recorded song and puts it together with another previously recorded song. This is the most blatant disregard of the copyright laws out there. Many people would say that these songs are not original pieces of art and many major mashup artists like Girl Talk (Greg Gillis) have been or are being threatened by many lawsuits.

In his defense, Greg Gillis has stated in this interview that the mashups he makes are “roughly the equivalent of taking a familiar Beatle’s melody on your guitar and rearranging the notes and putting a new guitar pedal sound on it and calling it your own song.” 

I want to do some more research on how our society views mashup music in relation to the copyright laws and if these laws should be updated to keep up with modern innovations and technology within the music industry.

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