One of the interesting things about copyright is that it is not universal. Every country has different rules regarding what rights an author has when creating a work. Another added complexity is that copyrights are not traditionally granted universally. It is common to negotiate different licenses across different regions. This is beneficial because if your content is generating revenue in one region, it is more likely to be well received elsewhere.

As a musician, this has its benefits. If you put out your own record in the US, it might help get you a really good deal with a label in Canada and the UK. Some bands have also found success in the US by first finding an audience in Europe. This whole scenario rarely occurs for artists on major’s though because most majors have branches in other regions. Also, a major will traditionally provide a rather healthy advance to make the record. This usually ends up meaning they own the masters, which in turn means they control the use of those masters.

While this separation of markets can be profitable for an artist, it also provides a level of complexity. When you release your music, it is trivial to also include iTunes in foreign markets. If you do this, it hurts your chances of finding a label. It can be effective to go without a label, when you are talking about a foreign country it is much more difficult. It is hard to know who is a reputable press person or booking agent. If you do try to promote your record in another country, how can you be sure the people working with you are legitimate? How can you hold them accountable? Do you have any legal recourse if something goes bad?

It is tough enough to be a band, book tours, and record in one country.

Taking it worldwide is only that much harder.

For us it is frustrating at times because we’ve gotten requests from folks over seas wanting to buy our music. Services like Bandcamp are great, but they don’t help in these situations because they don’t have a way to limit by region. It is also difficult to find similar services in other countries. If they are out there I haven’t found them. Another option is to just do the geo filtering myself, but that is a lot of code to write for a pretty limited number of sales. That is not to say these sales don’t mean anything, but rather, it is tough to justify the work.

Especially if we did end up finding a label in the UK or Europe.

It is an interesting problem because the way of the web is global, yet the content is not. It makes the argument that ISPs should act like utilities a little more complicated. A utility provides a resource that they create or purchase. An ISP provides a link to a network of resources they have no control over whatsoever. Not that I’m advocating ISPs do region filtering, but it seems like it does add a subtle hint of gray to the whole issue.

If anyone does know a non-US version of bandcamp please let me know. My other option is to keep a close eye on CASH and hopefully find some solutions.