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Drawing the lines: music copyright, cultures and creativity

Unpacking the structures and systems that perpetuate creative inequalities
What musical traditions do copyright laws protect and threaten? Do all musical cultures hold equal status in the eyes of the law? Hear from noted Harvard professor Ingrid Monson, who specialises in jazz and African American music.

Event details
Date and time:
 Tuesday 8 October, 6 – 7.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 200, Social Sciences Building
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry: free and open to all with online registrations essential.

Over the last decade a spate of legal action related to unauthorised musical borrowing has made international headlines and thrust music copyright into the global spotlight. From Down Under to Blurred Lines, court rooms around the world have been transformed into music lecture theatres in which the parameters of original musical thought have been charted, challenged and dissected.

In this Sydney Ideas event, renowned experts will demonstrate how competing claims of ownership are worked out in the legal arena, and question whether such tests align with the historical spirit of popular music, rooted in a range of different cultures.

Professor Ingrid Monson will also be delivering this year's Alfred Hook Lecture on Thursday 10 October, presented by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

The speakers

Ingrid is Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, supported by the Time Warner Endowment. She is a noted jazz scholar and ethnomusicologist, with a lifelong interest in the relationships among music, race, aesthetics and politics. Her book Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Calls Out to Jazz and Africa addresses these issues in the jazz world of the 1950s and 1960s.

She also served as an expert witness for the Marvin Gaye family in the high profile Blurred Lines copyright infringement case in 2015. Her secondary interest in the music of Mali, which has led to her forthcoming third book The Voice of Kendougou, about virtuosic Malian balafonist Neba Solo. Her next project addresses the history of copyright and economic inequality in African American music.

Christopher is Senior Lecturer in Musicology and a jazz researcher interested in a range of topics. He is the author of John Lewis and the Challenge of “Real” Black Music (University of Michigan Press) and has published articles on jazz in film noir, the music of the Modern Jazz Quartet and the pedagogy of music research training.

He teaches several undergraduate courses:This is Music, Jazz Musicology and Analysis, Jazz Hipsters and Hegemony and African-American Music Inquiry, along with the postgraduate seminar, Researching Creative Process.

Event information

This event is free and open to all but online registration is essential.

Simply click the 'Register now' button or follow this link.

Entry to ticket holders will be prioritised and given on a first-in, best-dressed basis until the room reaches capacity. If an event is full, this may result in standing room or delayed admittance until an appropriate time.

We recommend early arrival to allow time for finding the venue and securing a seat to the event. Doors open 30 minutes before the advertised start time. 

If you could not register but would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue on the night as seats may become available due to late cancellations. Please note, this is not guaranteed so you come at risk of non-admittance.

This venue provides wheelchair access, hearing loop and infrared hearing system.

Access requirements

If you have other access requirements or want more information, get in touch with us on 9351 2943 or email with 'Access | Oct 8 – Music' in the subject line at the earliest opportunity to allow us time to organise for any additional services in time for the event.

This event takes place at SSB Lecture Theatre 200, which is on Level 2 of the Social Sciences Building (enter via Science Road). 

There will be directional signage on the day leading to the theatre. You may also refer to the map on this page. 

Public Transport

To help you plan your trip, visit


Buses to the University are readily available from Railway Square, Central Station (Broadway). Please use the campus maps tool and tick the ‘State transit bus stops’ box under the ‘Amenities’ column to view all possible bus stops.

  • via Parramatta Road: Take one of these buses: 412, 436, 438, 439, 440, 461, 480, 483, m10, L38 or L39 and alight at the Footbridge on Parramatta Road. It's roughly a five-minute walk to the venue.
  • via City Road: Take one of these buses: 352, 370, 422, 423, 426, 428, m30, L23 or L28 and alight at the footbridge before Butlin Avenue. Cross the road or go across the bridge and take Eastern Avenue towards the Quadrangle, and turn into Science Road. It's roughly a 12-minute walk to the venue.

The venue is roughly 30 minutes walk from Redfern Station. Catch a train to Redfern Station and take Lawson Street up to Abercrombie Street. At the roundabout, follow Codrington Street up to Butlin Avenue. Follow Butlin Avenue through to the campus and up Eastern Avenue towards the Quadrangle and turn into Science Road. Keep walking along there – the venue will be on the right.

There is some on-street parking around Forest Lodge and Glebe.

There is also paid parking available at Western Avenue Carpark. Head to the University's Parking page for more information about fees and opening hours.

Use the University Campus Maps tool to find out more details about parking and access areas: search for the 'Social Sciences Building'. 

Event image: Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

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