Cory Doctorow: Terra Nullius – Locus Online

Good point by Doctorow on intellectual property as regards music:

The parts of musical composition that Europeans reify – melody – are eligible for copyright, but the characteristically Afro-Caribbean elements – complex polyrhythm – are not. Hence, the Beatles could appropriate R&B progressions and rhythms to make new music out of, but woe betide the hiphop artist who samples the Beatles to make a new composition today. The Beatles worked with unimproved nature (R&B), while samplers are stealing the property of the Beatles’ record label.

Musical “styles” are in their rhythms and their harmonic progressions; it seems odd that anyone can play “in a style” and make original music, but can’t play an existing melody in another style and call it original.

Part of a bigger article about property rights, “Terra nullius” and John Locke.

Source: Cory Doctorow: Terra Nullius – Locus Online

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