This Note begins with a discussion of copyright law and then examines Black musical traditions and how they have conflicted with American copyright law through the years. Part I explains the history of American copyright law and its theoretical underpinnings. Part II relates common Black musical traditions in more detail. Part III illustrates how the foundations of Black musical traditions can be found in Negro Spirituals. Part IV outlines the notion of Black music as it evolved in ragtime. Part V describes how copyright undermined the traditions of blues, jazz, and R&B. Part VI explains how rock 'n' roll's prominence embodied copyright's clash with the Black musical tradition. Part VII portrays the history of the hip-hop musical phenomenon and illustrates how copyright's negative treatment of digital sampling continues to denigrate the Black musical tradition. Part VIII discusses the need for a more culturally inclusive copyright regime. Part IX concludes the Note by discussing the importance and benefits of amending the current copyright laws.
Candace G. Hines,
Black Musical Traditions and Copyright Law: Historical Tensions,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol10/iss2/5