May 10, 2008

Copy that

This image is approved public domain, smarty.Ian Whitelaw, in his review of Simon McKerrell and Finlay
MacDonald’s new collection, makes matter-of-fact reference to bands
photocopying music. At the front of the book itself there’s a
message that says, “It is illegal to photocopy this book.”

Ian’s just mentioning a reality and I’m sure is the last person to
circumvent copyright. Regardless, copying music for “educational
purposes” is perfectly legal. Similarly, I don’t think Simon and
Finlay are terribly concerned about one-off copies of tunes, and
perhaps are thinking of wholesale recreation of the entire

Ever since the Haloid Company invented xerography, this battle
has gone on. Since Bill Livingstone first cautioned us in his first
collection in the 1980s, many other publishers of pipe music have
included pleas to pipers that say in so many words: “If you like
stuff in this book, then purchase it.”

I welcome every new collection. But I also wonder if new books of
music are old-think. Do many people download entire CDs of music?
Most people I know (but not me, generally) go to iTunes or PlanetPipe or
wherever and purchase the one or two things they like.

Jim McGillivray’s takes advantage of this new
reality. His site is a growing resource for pipers looking for that
one piece of music that they really want, without having to pay $30
for the whole collection. And ever since David Glen started
compiling tunes, there has always been a certain amount of filler
in those pricey works. Even Donald MacLeod’s collection has some
(very) occasional duff stuff.

And most composers I think just want their music played.
Distribution is usually the hard part, and some I know believe that
the more widely distributed it is ? purchased or not ? the higher
the odds that it will be played. And when original copyright music
is played, the composer makes the more significant money.

I think I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth saying again,
especially with the irony between the statement in the book and the
comment in the review. It’s really all about getting it out there.




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