What's the score?

February 27, 2004

The Royal Musical Association's position on copyright and permissions ("Call to fine-tune copyright", February 13) affects scholarship in other disciplines besides music. The problem for scholars lies not with copyright owners but mainly with publishers who, out of fear, require an author to seek permission unnecessarily. It is a rare publisher who allows an author to proceed once permission has been refused, however inadequate or inappropriate, in terms of statutory provision, the grounds may be.

The RMA intends to work with the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Board and other bodies to produce explicit guidance for academic authors and publishers. Any author who feels their publisher is pressing them inappropriately to seek permission to reproduce copyright material can turn to the guidelines for authors ( www3.oup.co.uk/roymus/instauth ), developed with Oxford University Press legal department, for the Journal of the RMA . These guidelines have supported publication of articles on contemporary and popular music.

Hugh Cobbe
President, Royal Musical Association

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