Performance rights in music: Some perspectives from economics, law and history

Hector MacQueen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This paper discusses the liberal economic approach to problems of copyright law espoused by Alan Peacock, in particular in relation to performing rights in music. His contribution showed a man of independent mind, not at all afraid to disagree with the established wisdom or to draw conclusions that surprised those for and with whom he worked. In the spirit of an argument amongst friends, the paper analyses the extent to which Peacock’s view of the economics of copyright resembled or differed from those who had gone before, including David Hume and Arnold Plant. It is suggested that the approach was another example of Peacock’s rejection of William Baumol’s analysis of the economics of the performing arts as always bound to require public subsidy. Peacock showed that composers and their publishers adjusted their positions to the demands of the market and also generated significant revenue for themselves in meeting consumer demand, in particular through collective action by way of membership organisations such as the Performing Right Society. In the 1970s he also advocated the imposition of a levy on blank media enabling private copying of content, an issue which has recently returned to the fore in debates about further copyright reform to meet the digital challenge. The paper concludes with some comments on Peacock’s reluctance to extend his economic analysis to more general questions about copyright law and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Artful Economist
Subtitle of host publicationA New Look at Cultural Economics
EditorsIlde Rizzo, Ruth Towse
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-40637-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-40635-0
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance rights in music: Some perspectives from economics, law and history'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this