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Copyright and You. How Copyright Issues Can Affect Your Media Coursework.

David Smailes | Thursday April 09, 2009

Categories: Key Concepts, Institutions, Copyright, Media Language, Magazines, Music Press, Music, Music Video, Other Topics, Television, Pop Music on TV

If your Media Studies production is an audio visual piece then it will most likely involve the use of some music.  This might be in the background of an advert, to make a film trailer more exciting, or as the focus of a music video.

What you need to remember is that even though it’s incredibly easy to download music and sound effects from the Internet, it’s not always a good idea to use those files in your media production.

In this article, I’ll give you the information you need on:

  • Copyright and the law
  • The Creative Commons licence and how it affects the music you can use in your work
  • Places where music and sound effects can be found

Copyright and the Law

The most important piece of legislation when it comes to your media production is something called the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, sometimes referred to as the CDPA, which is what I will call it from now on.

The CDPA, as the full name suggests, was made law in 1988 and it’s purpose is to protect the rights of the person or persons who originally created something. The something could be a book, film or design for a product, but in our case we’re talking about pieces of music.

The CDPA protects the writer of the piece of music by preventing anyone else from presenting that music as their own work, and also making copies of it. This means that the only way of getting a copy of the song should be to buy it .

This protection lasts for seventy years after the death of the original writer of the music, or if the writer is unknown, for seventy years after its original release.  The exception to this is for computer-generated music, which has a fifty year limit.

The part of the CDPA that most directly affects us is the following:

“Copyright in a sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme is not infringed by its being copied by making a film or film sound-track in the course of instruction, or of preparation for instruction, in the making of films or film...


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