The music we listen to is created and distributed within a complex and heavily regulated ecosystem. This course will survey the wide range of laws that shape, and have been shaped by, that ecosystem. It will also familiarize students with the industry’s various revenue streams and the many intermediary institutions that have evolved around them, including labels, publishers, performing rights organizations, and government-designated administrators of statutory licenses.
Substantively, much of the course will focus on contract law and copyright, particularly the United States’ music-specific licensing framework that is too complicated to receive much airtime in a standard introductory copyright class. It will also delve into antitrust, trademark, employment law, and the right of publicity. Readings will include both a casebook and supplementary primary sources such as statutes, judicial decisions, and sample license agreements.