Fair MusE’s coordinator Giuseppe Mazziotti, in an open access article published in the IIC – International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law in November 2020, raised the issue of the future of creators’ rights at a time Covid-19 was disrupting live performances and reducing musicians’ earnings. That was Fair MusE’s prologue.
Going back in time to when lockdown restrictions, in many areas of the world, compelled almost everyone to stay indoors, fast-growing audiences began relying on a very small number of digital platforms to have access to arts, culture, and entertainment.
As a matter of necessity, to keep in touch with their audiences, many musicians began streaming their live performances from their homes and recording studios when theaters, concert halls, bars, and other performing arts venues shut down in response to COVID-19.
This unanticipated shift provided a glimpse into what the creative industries may look like if hundreds of millions of people were forced to access music, movies, TV shows, and other artistic works primarily – if not exclusively – through a handful of digital services.
In particular, the fact that the largest social media platforms, some of which have reached more than one billion users, have used their exceptional economic power to shape the conditions of use and remuneration of creative works is a major cause for concern especially for the music sector, where these platforms have become vital for every right-holder’s business.
For the cultural industries as a whole, their core businesses, and even more importantly for individual authors and performers who need to make a living with their work, the undeniable dominance of a small number of tech companies in regulating (or significantly influencing) access to creative works is raising existential issues .
Cover image by Marius Masalar on Unsplash