Volume 19, Issue 7
By Philomena Anderson-Zhang
Recently, my deliciously evil Spotify algorithm fed me the new version of Taylor Swift’s 2008 album, Fearless. After switching to a private session – a function which I only recently learnt of and now frequently use so that my 2021 top songs will finally align with my precariously constructed self-image – I remembered how catchy these tunes are.
I was transported back to my tweenage years where I eagerly imagined the heartbreak and passion of songs like The Way I Loved You and Forever & Always. Although, now, as an emotionally stunted JD student, thinking about the kind of passion evoked by these songs makes me tired. I just want to arrive windswept, to a home where the only big thing about it is the mortgage, ABC News blaring through my car window. It seems like the rest of the world has also remembered how listenable the album is with it becoming a ‘No. 1 Album Again.’
This emotionally stunted JD student who is alarmingly behind in Copyright became curious as to whether T-Swift could actually re-record her entire oeuvre. The impetus for her decision to re-record has been widely publicised over the last few year. In short, T-Swizzle, supposedly like many artists, does not own the master rights to her back catalogue – these are usually owned by whoever financed the album. The label which owned her master rights was bought by another group and with that purchase came the rights to Taytay’s “musical legacy.” Something which she finds egregious as one of her many feuds is with the owner of this particular group.
However, if she had signed away her rights, how is it that she is able to re-record her earlier work without fear of copyright infringement? A cursory google (not even google scholar) led this JD wunderkind to realise that owning the master copies are not the same as owning the copyright to the musical or literary works embodied in the songs. It is common practice for artists to sign away their rights to their music to the record labels which provided funding, particularly if the label is taking a risk on a relatively unknown newbie, as Schwifty was back in the day (I think; I don’t actually remember a time before the Swizzle).
These contracts often also contain clauses which prevent these artists from re-recording for a set period of time after which they are allowed to re-record. According to Tay, this period ended in November 2020. It should also be noted that this process is made simpler because T-Swiz writes her songs so she does not have to deal with a third-party songwriter as she is a true musical gEnIuS.
Which is why now, a few months later, our ears have yet again been graced by the tunes of our tweendom – still hopelessly unrelatable but nonetheless also kind of relatable as a massive f*** swizzle to men who wear caps indoors …or maybe that’s just this JD student’s interpretation.
For those of you not on the Spotify train, the re-recorded album is also on the YouTube.
PAZ is a third-year who is clearly procrastinating her on her Legal Research.
The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of De Minimis or its Editors