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Exploring “ownership” of Irish traditional dance music - heritage or property?

Mcdonagh, Luke (2022) Exploring “ownership” of Irish traditional dance music - heritage or property? International Journal of Cultural Property, 29 (2). pp. 183-200. ISSN 0940-7391

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S094073912200011X


Dance has rarely been accepted as the subject of copyright protection because works of dance and choreography have lacked commodified property-object status in intellectual property law. If dance is “haunted by its own ephemerality” and, thus, rarely embodied as property, then what of dance music? Music composed, performed, and recorded with a dance audience in mind has formed, on many occasions, the subject matter of intellectual property law claims, as the rancorous recent litigation over the nightclub (and online-streaming) hit “Blurred Lines” demonstrates. In this article, I utilize the case study of traditional Irish dance music to explore how traditional music occupies a space somewhat outside the formal legal system, defined by informal social norms such as reciprocity, sharing, and acknowledgment (attribution). I consider how Irish traditional music can be represented as heritage and as property, reflecting on the type of ownership at play in the Irish traditional music community. I observe that Irish traditional dance music provides an example of “heritage as resistance” – a mode of cultural and social practice that continues to thrive as a living tradition, even in the contemporary market-oriented world of the global North.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s).
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2022 13:03
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 22:03

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