Whither Copyright In The Time of Trump?

Artist rights advocates are hoping President Trump’s entrepreneurial bent and lack of allegiance to Silicon Valley might make him sympathetic to those seeking fair pay for fair play.

  illustration by Courtney Spencer

When it comes to strange political bedfellows, the notion of Donald Trump warming up the sheets for music-industry creatives sounds about as plausible as an eight-track tape renaissance. A media-bashing conservative who has vowed to rein in the First Amendment, dissed Hollywood’s finest and suffered rejection by nearly every artist asked to play his inauguration. Who decreed that for every new federal regulation issued, two must be revoked. That Donald Trump. How could he morph into a caped crusader for stronger copyright protections and more equitable pay for content creators.

Conventional wisdom suggests that sounds more like satire from a cartoonist’s pen — or Saturday Night Live scriptwriters — than anything approaching reality. Yet artist rights advocates express optimism regarding prospects for action on intellectual property issues affecting songwriters, performers, record producers and other content creators. They’re hoping Trump’s entrepreneurial bent and lack of allegiance to Silicon Valley might make him sympathetic to those seeking fair pay for fair play.

“We at the Recording Academy are positive about working with the Trump administration,” says Austin-based singer-songwriter Kevin Russell, a.k.a. Shinyribs, a member of the Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter Board and co-chair of its advocacy committee. “We think he has a greater appreciation for the value of intellectual property. As well, he has a bit of an axe to grind against Big Data and Big Tech. So that may benefit us.”

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