Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Outlook.com

Can’t Stifle Our Song

Faulty claims of copyright curbs the freedom to practise and share living, ‘open source’ art forms.

Can’t Stifle Our Song

I understand that YouTube has been flagging online streaming companies such as Parivadini when compositions of Thyagaraja are uploaded by saying that the copyright for the ‘composition itself’ and not a particular rendition belongs to another com­pany. There is an appeals process, but it doesn’t really work. The nonsensical part is that there are cases where the company that has first claimed copyright has reins­ta­ted their claim over the composition. This is, in my opinion, not just illegal but aga­inst the very fabric of traditional oral music systems. The company can only claim rights over a particular rendition and not the composition, as no one has copyright over it.

I don’t think recording companies and YouTube understand the idea of composition and rendition within an oral music system. The compositions in traditional oral systems are living beings that have evolved with every masterly rendition of the composition. It belongs to the community practising the art. Secondly, each rendition of the same composition is a new creation of that very composition. This is a very crucial and nuanced idea embedded in the fabric of oral artistic cultures. Even among schools of thought there are so many different versions of each composition, no one has the right to copyright each one of them. When any company claims copyright over a composition of Thyagaraja, it is actually absurd. Will we then have companies copyrighting Raga alapanas?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement