Who owns the music?
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the growing popularity of world music, UCLA's role in safeguarding
the cultural patrimony of indigenous peoples is more significant
than ever before
Photography by Gerard Vuilleumier
HERE'S THE PROBLEM: NO ONE AT LEAST
NO ONE WITH ANY REAL SENSE OF ETHICAL VALUES AND AN ELEMENTAL UNDERSTANDING
OF CURRENT COPYRIGHT LAW WOULD THINK TO SIMPLY LIFT A SONG
BY, SAY, THE BEATLES AND SLAP IT INTO AN ADVERTISEMENT OR OTHERWISE
RECORD IT WITHOUT CREDITING JOHN LENNON OR PAUL MCCARTNEY AND PAYING
FOR THE USAGE. BUT, SOMEHOW, SUCH ETHICS DON'T ALWAYS SEEM TO APPLY
WHEN IT COMES TO USING THE INDIGENOUS MUSIC OF NATIVE PEOPLES FROM
AROUND THE WORLD.
for example, an incident witnessed by Professor Anthony Seeger of
the School of the Arts and Architecture's Department of Ethnomusicology.
Some 20 years ago, when Seeger was affiliated with the Museu Nacional
in Rio de Janeiro, he spent much of his time lugging a reel-to-reel
tape recorder through the jungles of the Brazilian Amazon to document
for scholarly study and safekeeping in the museum's archive the
music every note, every word, every nuance of some
of the peoples who lived there.
the request of one of those peoples, the Suya Indians, Seeger helped
to produce a commercial recording of their music. But he insisted
that the cover of the recording, Musica Indigena: A Arte Vocal
Dos Suya (Indian Music: The Vocal Art of the Suya), carry a
statement in large capital letters: "This recording was
made with the knowledge and approval of the Suya. The selections
are artistic productions of this society. Royalties will be forwarded
to the community, and must be paid. The unauthorized use of these
recordings is prohibited not only by law, but by the moral force
against the exploitation of these artists."
didn't work," Seeger laments.