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PPL AGM: 80th birthday & who owns the copyright in Space?

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock

13.6.2014

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The 80th Annual General Meeting for PPL has just taken place, and we wanted to share some of the highlights from the year! And we’ll be looking at the age-old question: If an astronaut writes a song on the moon, is the work protected by copyright? And if so, then who owns it?

Recorded Music Revenue is up 4%

More and more businesses are realising the importance of playing music to their staff and customers, this combined with an increased awareness of the need for a music license has lead to PPL generating license fee income at £176.9 Million, a 4% increase on last year!

As well as that they have “made more payments to more members than ever before during 2013 (39,000 performers and 3,700 recording rights holders)”.

This is great news for the artists and musicians everywhere, and welcome in a time when so much is in doubt in the ever-changing industry. Music Gateway just wants to congratulate PPL and say thanks for all the hard work they do to uphold these important standards on behalf of the industry at large.

The PPL People’s Pop Chart 2013

1) Get Lucky – Daft Punk, Feat. Pharrell Williams
2) Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke /T.I / Pharrell
3) Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
4) Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars
5) Just Give Me A Reason – P!NK Feat. Nate Ruess
6) Let Her Go – Passenger
7) Wake Me Up – Avicii
8) La La La – Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith
9) Troublemaker – Olly Murs Feat. Flo.Rida
10) When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

The PPL People’s Artist Chart 2013

1) Olly Murs
2) Bruno Mars
3) P!nk
4) Rihanna
5) Calvin Harris
6) Robbie Williams
7) Justin Timberlake
8) Katy Perry
9) Taylor Swift
10) Queen

Who owns the copyright on the moon?

Professor Adrian Sterling was one of the esteemed guest speakers at the AGM, giving new perspective on the future of music and copyright by asking the question:

“How do the existing international copyright and related rights instruments apply in extraterritorial areas – or do they apply at all?”

The case of Chris Hadfield comes to mind, the astronaut with a youtube channel that has been viewed by millions. He filmed a version of Space Oddity whilst in free-fall, which he had permission to record and distribute the song. However had he not had this, the issue could have been immensely complicated, and with the beginnings of space tourism and continued exploration these issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later. In this case the complication would have come from the fact that Hadfield was circling the globe, crossing through many copyright territories whilst recording the performance. This article explains the situation in more detail.

What would happen for example, if an astronaut wanted to perform an original song about floating up in space to his colleagues whilst orbiting mars? We can only speculate so far, but it will be interesting to see where the future of this new branch of music copyrights leads.

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