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Beyond the Music: A Non-Law Student’s Exploration of Copyright Law in CREATe

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Beyond the Music: A Non-Law Student’s Exploration of Copyright Law in CREATe

By 7 November 2023No Comments

Blog post by Arthur Ehlinger, PhD Candidate in Music at the University of Glasgow and Knowledge Exchange Officer at CREATe.

The digital age, with its ceaseless evolution, constantly propels us into unanticipated directions. As a PhD student, my intention was to explore the world of Twitch, initially a gamer’s haven, which has now became a burgeoning space for musicians. Little did I realise that this exploration would lead me to the intricate and enigmatic corridors of music copyright law, reshaping both my research and future career opportunities. If my background in the music industries had provided me with a foundational grasp of music copyright, this industry-centric viewpoint did not fully equip me to navigate the intricate legalities, especially in the realm of live streaming. This relatively unexplored academic domain presented significant challenges. Grasping the opportunity provided by my location at the Advanced Research Centre (ARC) of the University of Glasgow, I turned to my colleagues at CREATe conveniently situated just a few steps away — a move that proved instrumental.

Legal studies, with their precision, rigour, and unexpected depth, were entirely new waters for me. I soon recognised the stark contrast in perspectives when examining music copyright from industry versus legal viewpoints. However, if one is to navigate this landscape, it is imperative to adopt the conventions and methodologies that ensure the research remains comprehensive and relevant to both disciplines. My newfound colleagues introduced me to the meticulous process of finding and breaking down legal documents, interpreting their essence, and making sense of often complex legal concepts. Having been adopted by the CREATe family, I was able to present my preliminary findings, as part of the IP Reading Group. As a new member, especially coming from a non-law background, presenting my work was both an exciting venture and a valuable opportunity to gauge reactions from more experienced early career law researchers. I sought to discern which aspects intrigued them the most and identify areas they found less compelling. After an intense hour-long discussion, I emerged alive, and invigorated, armed with insightful feedback. This experience solidified my intent to delve deeper into the world of music copyright within the context of live streaming — a subject as captivating as it is enjoyable, something I was not really expecting.

Throughout this journey, one thing stood out: the immense value of interdisciplinary collaboration. Indeed, the knowledge flow was not just in one direction. Now being part of the CREATe team, regularly attending meetings, and participating in presentations, I found that my unconventional and – sometimes – naive perspective could also bring fresh insights, providing a pragmatic angle to the legal discourse. Bridging the chasm between legal scholars and those from other disciplines is crucial, paving the way for a more holistic narrative. One that could resonate with a broader audience, equipping individuals to engage in these conversations from a place of knowledge, rather than conjecture.

In the context of my research, the absence of a viable middle ground between right holders, Twitch and the wider community of users has culminated in a scenario where copyrighted music is ubiquitously and illicitly used, a situation detrimental to all parties involved. My research provides a balanced and meticulous viewpoint, acknowledging the intricate nuances of music copyright while understanding the interests and challenges faced by each party, along with the implications arising from them. With this comprehensive perspective, I aim to foster a bridge of understanding and collaboration, striving for a fair environment for all stakeholders involved. More importantly, with the proliferation of digital platforms like Twitch, many are becoming creators, perhaps even unintentionally. Understanding the nuances of music copyright is not just for legal experts; it is increasingly pertinent for anyone engaged in the digital realm. By studying this intersection, my research speaks directly to a vast and growing community, offering clarity and guidance in a space that can often feel like a legal minefield. Just like it was for me a few months ago.

This collaborative experience was rooted within a physical location, the ARC, underscoring the importance of interdisciplinary academic spaces — spaces that foster collaboration, mutual respect, and the synthesis of diverse perspectives. Rooted in the belief that groundbreaking insights often arise from the blend of diverse fields, the ARC provides a dynamic research environment that actively encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration. Within its halls, scholars from varied backgrounds come together, bringing their unique perspectives to the table. This melange of ideas, methodologies, and expertise creates a fertile ground for creativity and development.

On a professional front, this collaborative experience acted as a catalyst for me. More than just augmenting my skillset, it bolstered my confidence, encouraging me to venture into territories I had not considered before. The culmination? Landing a role as a Knowledge Exchange Officer at CREATe. In this capacity, I aim to seamlessly bridge the worlds of law and culture, fostering dialogues, and contributing meaningfully to the ever-evolving digital landscape. Positioned at the crossroads of law, technology, social sciences, and humanities, I believe that CREATe is uniquely poised to influence policymaking and has the potential to shape the trajectory of society in a positive and meaningful direction.

As I embark on this new chapter, drawing on this illuminating experience, I am now a fervent advocate of interdisciplinary collaborations. In a world that is increasingly interconnected, it is through these shared understandings and exchanges that we can truly push boundaries, innovate, and shape a digital future that is both inclusive and informed.