Roundtable examines copyright's impact in music industry

Author: Denise Wager


Leading copyright scholars gathered at Notre Dame Law School on October 26 to discuss Glynn Lunney's book, Copyright's Excess: Money and Music in the U.S. Recording Industry. Lunney is a professor of law at Texas A&M University School of Law.

Copyright in the United States has rested on a simple premise: more copyright will lead to more money for copyright owners, and more money will lead to more original works of authorship.

Lunney tests that premise in his book by tracking the rise and fall of the sound recording copyright from 1961 to 2015, along with the associated rise and fall in sales of recorded music. The empirical evidence finds the exact opposite relationship: more revenue led to fewer and lower-quality hit songs. Lunney's research shows that what copyright does is vastly increase the earnings of our most popular artists and songs, which results in fewer hit songs.

In addition to Lunney, other attendees included:

  • Stephanie Bair, Notre Dame Law School (visiting from BYU School of Law)
  • Annemarie Bridy, University of Idaho College of Law
  • Peter DiCola, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Joseph Fishman, Vanderbilt University Law School
  • Wendy Gordon, Boston University School of Law
  • Ariel Katz, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
  • Jessica Litman, University of Michigan Law School
  • Lydia Loren, Lewis & Clark Law School
  • Imke Reimers, Northeastern University
  • Matthew Sag, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Zahr Said, University of Washington School of Law
  • Pam Samuelson, Berkeley Law
  • Chris Sprigman, New York University School of Law
  • Steve Yelderman, Notre Dame Law School

The roundtable discussion was organized by Steve Yelderman and was sponsored by Notre Dame Law School and the Research Program on Law and Market Behavior (ND LAMB).