For an abridged version of this paper, see this page.

Though the practice of covering previously-performed songs has been prevalent in music history for several decades, many new artists looking to build their profiles in the modern music industry release cover songs by currently popular artists, often putting a unique spin on their performance in order to showcase their stylistic originality and also gain the interest of fans to support their careers. However, copyright laws are a problematic issue that many artists must face in order to legally release and sometimes profit from their reworked cover versions. Artists need to be aware of copyright laws when posting and selling covers to ensure that they are working within the law, but when done successfully, they can use cover songs as an effective method of building a fanbase and boosting their musical career. This paper will analyze and critique the current copyright system and how it relates to song covers, particularly those that are posted and released through the video-sharing website YouTube. After an introduction covering the history and variants of cover songs, a deeper analysis of copyright law on YouTube and in the music industry will follow, along with case studies of how they can both help and hinder artistic creativity for developing artists using YouTube as a platform for which to promote their music careers.
Continue reading “The Right to Copy: Cover Songs and Copyright on YouTube”

After applying and interviewing for the opportunity to be the student speaker at my fall 2013 commencement from Michigan State University, I was honored to deliver the following remarks before graduating with high honor (for a GPA exceeding 3.90) on December 14, 2013 with a degree in arts and humanities, a French minor, and Honors College distinction.

When you think of a bridge, you probably think of a structure manufactured to go over an obstacle, creating a connection between two places. You have probably traveled across many bridges in your life without even thinking about it. From family trips to the Mackinac Bridge and building monkey bridges in Boy Scouts to crossing the Red Cedar on campus and walking across a bridge to class every day when I studied abroad in France last summer, I know I have used many bridges in my lifetime to help me get from place to place.

Today, as we prepare to cross from college to the “real world,” I’d like to talk about a few other kinds of bridges. Just like those constructed from steel or rope, they too make connections that get people past obstacles; however, they’re a little less literal. As you move forward in the world, these bridges will help you reach your destination even if you don’t yet know what’s on the other side. They are the bridges between people, ideas, and skills — bridges that connect you with your network and with the knowledge that you have gained as a student at MSU.
Continue reading “MSU Fall 2013 Commencement Student Address: Building Bridges”