July 5, 2020

Chanting songs on balconies could violate intellectual property rights, says expert

A public communication, whether profit or not, “needs authorization”

Singing songs from the window or the balconies on the terraces, as seen in Spanish houses these days during the confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, could violate the intellectual property rights of their authors. As pointed out to Europa Press by Pablo Velasco Quintana, an expert in intellectual property at the CEU San Pablo University, it is necessary to “ask for authorization” for a “communication to the public”, whether or not it is “profitable”, since, according to the law, the author is the only one who can “authorize or prohibit” the “reproduction”, “transformation” and “communication”.

However, he pointed out that although the “general rule” is that “nobody can go out and sing a song without authorization,” he believes that the Dynamic Duo, whose song ‘I will resist’ is becoming one of the soundtracks of the confinement, will be “Delighted” that it is being used and spread, because it is becoming a “symbol”. In addition, this expert has indicated that “from the economic point of view”, this is going to “generate rights” because his song is going to become popular again and will be played on radio and television.

In any case, Velasco has specified that “the law does not speak of economic benefit” so that there is a violation of intellectual property rights, and that this right entails the “promotion of cultural creation and its respect.” In any case, this expert has clarified that this is the “general rule” but, like others, intellectual property is “limited” and has a “public function”, since one composes and creates because he has heard or read it before, for which, once the author has died and after a while, the work enters the “public domain”.

Asked about other similar cases, such as the song ‘Seven Nation Army’, by The White Stripes, which soccer fans around the world chant in games, Velasco has pointed out that the difference is that “soccer stadiums pay a canon ”and the theme of the North American band is included in the list of reproductions of the stadiums of the rights management entities. In addition, he believes that no author will be offended since it supposes “a dissemination of his work and a popularization”.

Other situations that may raise doubts are the online concerts that are offered through platforms or on social networks. In this case, this CEU expert points out that in this case the authors have to follow the contract they have signed with their record label, although he has pointed out that the concerts seen on sites like Instagram “probably have the corresponding authorization”, since “It is still a promotional action.”


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