Well, I am off to Helsinki next week to wait for it – talk about Frank Zappa. I seems a while since I have done this, but as I get ready to hopefully work on the book ‘Zappa and the ‘And” – I thought it made sense to start sharing my views with others again. Anyway – a few details about the conference. It is positioned between Espoo and Helsinki in the cultural centre, and organised by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Norden. The presentations can be found here. My paper is entitled ‘Fair Use, Grand Rights and the Zappa Family Trust: A legal and ethical examination of the enforcement of restrictive rights by a copyright holder’, and the abstract is copied below.
Since the death of Frank Zappa in 1993, there has been an ongoing legal battle between the Zappa Family Trust and the plethora of tribute bands that have emerged, recording and performing his music. It could be argued that these ensembles not only pay direct homage to Zappa’s legacy by interpreting his music in numerous ways, but also keep his memory alive by interfacing with both his long standing audience, and a younger generation who may not be aware of his music. Despite this, the ZFT position focuses upon copyright protection, as opposed to exploiting an opportunity to publicize Zappa’s legacy. Their recent claim that a ‘tribute performance’ falls into the category of a ‘musical dramatic work’, and therefore ‘Grand’ as opposed to ‘Statutory Right’ remuneration is controversial, and raises a number of important issues regarding the ‘dramatic nature’ of Zappa’s music, and to what extent his portfolio is being appropriated for specific use. These factors represent a unique example of a copyright holder effectively litigating its fan base, and acts as a fascinating case study of the ethical and legal factors of what constitutes a reduction in a performers’ collective bargaining. This paper intends to explore these issues, before contextualizing them through speaking to the tribute musicians themselves.
It is based on a chapter that is hopefully being published in Contemporary Theatre Review in 2011.