Article: PERFORMERS’ RIGHTS
Articles / October 2005

Click here to download this article as a PDF file (.pdf) by Jamie Barnard Media, Brands and Technology Lawyer, Lewis Silkin Solicitors London, UK October, 2005 Although it took many years to achieve, performers of music have finally been given rights equivalent to those conferred on authors and other copyright owners. Rights of the intellect (avoiding reference to intellectual property for reasons that will become clear) are theoretical until the moment they can be exploited. In other words, a poem rehearsed a thousand times in Shakespeare’s mind would have no more protection in law than a spectacular soliloquy to an empty room. In the days before performances could be captured in acoustic or visual recordings, or indeed broadcast live, rights in a performance could vest in no one but the performer. Without the ability to “fix” a performance, exploitation was impossible without the performer’s consent. However, as soon as a performance could be fixed, it could be exploited by others, and the performer’s autonomy was no longer guaranteed. The synopsis at the head of this essay contains a subtle truth which should be acknowledged before performers’ rights are considered further. In society, rights exist on two levels: philosophically and legally. Whilst we may…