Friday, 14 September 2012

Dylan on copyright: "There are different rules for me"

Different rules, perhaps, about what infringes someone else's copyright - though that's not what the great wordsmith meant, as the context will make clear. Last year I blogged about the controversy surrounding some of his paintings (see here). Now the BBC has published a piece (hat tip to the IPKat) about "borrowings" dating back to 2006 and 2001 - and earlier. Of course, even the man's name is borrowed, but Dylan Thomas had few if any rights to stop Robert Zimmerman appropriating it, and little if any reason to try to prevent it anyway. And it's true that folk and jazz music have a rich history of borrowing, but not simply parasitic copying.

Well, Henry Timrod's copyright has long since expired, although Saga is still alive and kicking. Anyway, I don't know how extensive the taking might have been, although if I have time I am now interested enough to find out. It doesn't look to me as if this latest plagiarism accusation has the legs that the paintings thing did, but regardless of that I feel extremely disappointed that such an original, innovative artist should adopt so cavalier an attitude to others' work, whether protected by law or not.

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