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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Lamont School of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology


This project will examine how changes in copyright law enacted with the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on Golan v Holder affect the performance programming of American symphony orchestras. The court’s decision brought many previously public-domain, foreign works under copyright protections in accordance with the Uruguay Rounds Agreement Act; among the musical works were frequently performed pieces by composers such as Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky. The result is that previously free or low-cost works would now have to be licensed or rented for performance at great expense to the performing group. I will seek to test a hypothesis proposed by legal scholar Hannah Dubina in her article "Decomposing the Precarious Future of American Orchestras in the Face of Golan v. Holder," in which she proposes that copyright restrictions on these works will make their performance prohibitively costly for large- and small-scale orchestras, resulting in stale concert programming, increased financial burdens, and poorer audience and community engagement. My project will be a comparative analysis of data from some of the largest budget American orchestras vs. that of small community orchestras in Colorado and New Mexico. While the project will recognize other factors that affect concert programming, such as tradition or identity politics, these are beyond the scope of my research and will not be examined. The resources below will be useful for this discussion. Additionally, this list can be a valuable resource for anyone conducting research on music copyright law and its history, as well as researchers seeking information on operational and financial concerns of performing orchestras.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.