Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 September 2022
Is music property? If so, can it be owned – and by whom? Can it be stolen? Who gets to make money from it – and who risks being exploited? Answers to these questions all hinge on the issue of copyright: the legal instrument that defines the owner of a musical work and gives them exclusive rights to make copies of it. Copyright may seem like a marginal, even bureaucratic subject for a music textbook. Yet it is central to the history of music in the twentieth century. Without copyright, music publishing – and therefore a music industry – is almost unimaginable (Frith and Marshall 2004: 1). And copyright is the framework through which music in the twentieth century was understood legally and economically – and, consequently, morally.