Teaching about copyright’s “Blurred Lines”

NYTimes covers the "Blurred Lines" infringement case, click here for the article.

NYTimes covers the “Blurred Lines” infringement case, click here for the article.

The NYTimes has a solid summary of the “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement case, which was decided against Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams. They also published a nice critical analysis. There is no better time than when a big story breaks to discuss creative rights and creativity with your students. Given the ruling, it is also a good time to remind teachers that they get more mileage out of teaching creative rights than they do from teaching © compliance (see point three below).

Teachers who want some ideas for discussing the case in their classrooms might enjoy the following resources:

1. Chapter 6 of James Boyle’s The Public Domain, “I Got a Mashup,” conveys the story of the complexities of copyright using Kanye West and Ray Charles (and more). It is wonderful and fascinating and makes the ambiguity of copyright and the cloudiness of authorship very easy to see, hear, and discuss. The book is available as a Creative Commons free download.

2. Lawrence Lessig’s book “Free Culture” was perhaps the first book to really grab the public imagination about how copyright can be understood as part of the broad network of laws, values, norms, and architecture that support (or hinder) creativity. That book is also a free download.

3. Specifically for music teachers, I have argued that teachers should focus more on creative rights than compliance. My most extended argument from Music Education Research can be found here in both free and paywall versions. I also have a few links in that post to shorter pieces.

4. Kembrew McLeod is an outstanding scholar and prankster who does a nice job covering some of the more radical ideas regarding copyright. Your students will love him, and you should, too.

5. The film Copyright Criminals is great, and you can watch it right here:

About Matthew

Music education: media, technology, and participatory music.
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