While there is research into consumer attitudes to copyright and downloading, and the music industry has made clear its own views in evidence to the Hargreaves Review and other forums, relatively little is known about musicians’ attitudes to copyright. This article reports on those musicians who are negotiating the new terrain created by digitization and its accompanying business models. Are their attitudes to copyright simply determined by their financial self-interest and a sense of ownership of their music, or do they see copyright as a restriction of their creative freedom? Using the results of a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with UK musicians, we show how a variety of factors – including generic conventions, knowledge and experience, and wider social values – contribute to attitudes to copyright. Although knowledge of, and interest in, copyright can be driven by financial self-interest, other considerations are in play. These findings have, as we explain, implications both for copyright policy and for an understanding of creative practice in a digital economy. If the assumption is that copyright is designed to serve the interests and facilitate the creativity of musicians, this view is not always shared by the intended beneficiaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-358
Number of pages17
JournalMedia, Culture & Society
Issue number3
Early online date6 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • copyright
  • cultural labour
  • digitization
  • musicians
  • piracy
  • sampling

Cite this