“Trafficking in Taiwan Aboriginal Music” Summary and Analysis – Music Paper
In this article, Nancy Guy raises the issue on how artists from the First World use “exotic” material produced from indigenous world music but do not acknowledge their uses. Therefore the recording artists
are the ones who benefit and profit and not the original creators. Since there are no official copyright laws for international music there is an easier access for stealing music. In the U.S. there are strict copyright laws but only for music with an author and provide a physical copy. Given that through generations, indigenous music is usually passed down orally, there is no specific author or a “tangible” copy. Guy presents an example with the case between an artist from the U.S., Michael Cretu versus aboriginal singers from Amis tribe in Taiwan. In Cretu’s song, “Return of the Innocence” a large portion contains Ami singers’ voices but they were not recognized in any way. This resulted in the Ami singers suing Cretu and EMI recording company.
As stated in the article, the whole controversy could have been avoided if a few words recognizing the Ami music were printed on the album. Although it seems like common sense to recognize people’s work when you use it for your own purpose, sometimes it is forgotten. This issue is similar to today’s controversy of sharing music through the internet without compensating the music artists and recording companies. I feel that it is unethical to steal music but it depends on if the person is using it as his or her own music or just listening to it. These types of copyright issues are hard to solve but for now it should be left to the legal system.