Silence in the Library: From Copyright Collections to Cage

Research output: Contributions to conferencesOtherpeer-review



As a musicologist, I research historical legal deposit music collections from the period roughly contemporary with Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen. Clearly linked to copyright legislation, my interest is in what music was registered, what was deposited in libraries, and how it fared when it got there. Naturally, I’m also interested in any music copyright litigation that crop up in the literature, and the insights that it gives us into the historical development of copyright.
As a music librarian, however, I’m more concerned with ensuring that our readers understand what they can, and can’t do with regard to copyright, whether it’s a question of how much they can copy, whether they can arrange a piece of music, or what the implications of performing rights might be. Recent conversations about one of John Cage’s compositions raise particularly intriguing questions.
My talk is different because it attempts to bridge the gap between historical research and current practice.
Delegates will be encouraged to think about the wider issues concerning intellectual property, and to begin to appreciate how legislation first enacted before the Age of Enlightenment has continued to shape what we do with music to the present day.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 26 Jun 2019
EventIcepops 2019: International Copyright-literacy Event with Playful Opportunities for Practitioners and Scholars - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jun 201927 Jun 2019


ConferenceIcepops 2019
Abbreviated titleIcepops 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Author keywords

  • Copyright;, Legal deposit, User education