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Extending Pop Music Copyrights 709

Posted by Hemos
from the but-of-course dept.
InklingBooks writes "According to TimesOnLine, the UK is considering doubling the copyright term for popular music to 100 years. That means the Beatles' "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me," scheduled to to go into the public domain in 2013, would earn royalties for record companies until 2063."
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Extending Pop Music Copyrights

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  • Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:52AM (#12745247) Journal
    Disney did it... why not let others do it too? Either everyone gets extensions or no one does... it's only fair...
  • This can be seen ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by canwaf (240401) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:54AM (#12745268) Homepage Journal
    This can be seen as giving the record companies more money to generate/find new talent /or/

    Giving the record companies more money as they rehash the same old talent.

    It's amazing how record companies can make themselves sound like poor orphans with no money, food, heating, or shelter.
  • Record Companies? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by goneutt (694223) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:56AM (#12745272) Journal
    Michael Jackson bought the rights to the beatles music way back in the 80's. Thats one reason to not buy beatles CD's. Pirate your beatles music, then buy something else by McCartney or Ringo, that way they'll see the profits. Buying beatles music supports a pedofile.
  • Re:it is almost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:17AM (#12745417) Journal
    Hehehe, sorry, Scouse [answers.com] is the name they give to the people that live in Liverpool (the place where the Beatles born.

    But no, it seems you are not. You must be a big Beatles fan then =o)

    Cheers.
  • by Gumshoe (191490) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:20AM (#12745449) Journal
    In America, copyright protection lasts 90 years -- and British ministers are considering a similar period.
    If you look at the history of copyright reform, you can see this leapfrogging of other countries copyright period as standard practice. In fact, it's tempting to think that it's deliberate. The reasoning here is, the US has copyright for 90 years so the UK must have a period of 100 years otherwise it must be unfair. Expect in the future, US legislators to use the UK's period of 100 years to argue for 110 years. Ad Nauseum.
  • The Real Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DocSavage64109 (799754) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:21AM (#12745456)
    I wonder if the real reason for extending the copyright to 100 years is so there won't soon be completely legal rampant sharing of some of the best music ever produced. Why pay money for new crap when you can have a free catalog of all of the music from the 60s?

    Now that I think of it, does this mean all of the music up to 1955 is now public domain? If so, someone should start a legal torrent site of public domain albums up through 1955.
  • Re:Because... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:26AM (#12745491)
    ..everyone knows that unless the Beatles continue to make money from recordings made fifty years ago, they'll have to quit music and get day jobs. Then society won't get any new Beatles music, and then where will we be?

    Yea, this is one area where I think we've gone totally wrong. Copyright should last at most 10-20 years. Works that persist longer in the spotlight become more a part of the culture than a creation of the artist. For example, I doubt many people here know who actually wrote the "Happy Birthday" song, but everyone knows it, everyone sings it at a birthday party, and yet it's still under copyright.

    Imagine a society where an orchestra couldn't play any classical music without acquiring the rights to that performance from a copyright holder that has been passed down through the centuries by inane copyright law and they end up paying a large amount of money for you to enjoy their performance. When a work of art persists for decades in the hearts and minds of a large group of people it becomes part of our unique culture and our government has the obligation to help protect that cultural identity IMHO.

    As an artist there seems to be two camps, those who do it for the money and those who do it for the art. For the latter I would imagine they enjoy making money off something they love as a side effect, but if they couldn't sell a single song or book I'm sure they'd continue writing or singing. For the former group they'll wither away and leave us with less bubble gum pop bands, manufactured grunge groups, and corporate "gangsta" rappers, but in the end our cultural identity will thrive as a result. We'd be cutting out the crap and keeping the true art made by people who love their work for the sake of making it and not for the money it brings them... I guess it'd result in a situation like we have with open source programmers in the end.

    Aw screw it, I guess I'm sounding like a big old commie now, but I had to get that off my chest. The fact that Mickey Mouse is still under the iron thumb of Walt Disney Corporation so long after Walt's death just annoys the hell out of me.

  • Error in the article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrLex (811382) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:27AM (#12745496) Homepage
    BRITAIN'S super-rich rock veterans are about to get even richer.
    Oops, typo. That should have been:
    BRITAIN'S super-rich rock veteran leeching music companies are about to get even richer.
  • by Bralkein (685733) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:43AM (#12745606)
    I cannot believe this, it really makes my blood boil. Apparently I'm a "thief" for downloading mp3s because I want to know what music sounds like before I buy the CD, or because I lend a CD or two to my friends. All I'm doing is fairly reasonable, yet if you listen to what the record companies say, I am a villain.

    However, if you stop and think for a second, who is depriving whom? I'm depriving them of nothing, if I couldn't download mp3s, I'd never buy CDs, full stop. If the record companies can bribe governments to extend copyright to such a ridiculous degree, then they are preventing the public from having the access they are entitled to without forking out. They are depriving the public of something that should be theirs, and I think that's a whole lot closer to theft than anything any p2p-user can do.

    Copyrights expire for a reason. When millions of people have grown up with and grown to love the music of artists as innovative and inspirational as The Beatles, then that music is a deeply ingrained part of our culture. It is morally reprehensible to charge a fee to experience important aspects of our history and social identity.

    I've had enough of this bullshit. I could just about stand the debasement of music into some kind of fashion show, some kind of advert for clothing and lifestyle, with near-pornographic videos. I could just about handle the marginalisation of anything even vaguely interesting by the brain-dead pop music of today (and yes, it is worse than it used to be). I hate the sickening marketing focus-group taint that covers all of these "artists", I hate this state of affairs, but it seems to be what people want, so I can live with it... if people genuinely enjoy this kind of music, then fine, I don't have to listen to it. What I cannot take is this theft. Major labels haven't done anything exciting for years, and now they are actually becoming detrimental to society.

    Declare war on these companies. Do not do business with them. What they're doing is akin to setting up a toll booth on a public road. Would you stand for that? No? Then don't stand for this. These organisations are criminal, pure and simple.
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:46AM (#12745627) Homepage Journal
    Copyright was intended to temporarily reward the artist, to encourage them to produce art.

    The frenchman who came up with it called it "author's rights".
    I'm trying to remember his name... he was involved in the american war of independance... dang lack of sleep.

    Anyway, the point of it was that in those days, the publishers were the only ones with the means to reproduce and distribute "copyrightable" material because printing presses were huge and expensive, and so the authors got screwed: they paid you a small sum for your labour and then made money off your work by simply printing it ad-nauseum.

    Back then the publishers were opposed to copyrights. Now they twisted it and corrupted the system so that they once again get to screw people over. We gotta take the power back... don't ask me how though.
  • by TractorBarry (788340) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:02AM (#12745757) Homepage
    That could all be well and good as long as their was one slight change to copyright laws.

    e.g. The only people who can receive ANY paymenmts in relation to copyrighted works are the original authors and/or the original performers of a work (in the case of people doing the writing and other people doing the performing both would get a share etc.)

    The same for inventors. Only the original inventor gets any share of the copyright.

    Furthermore these rights cannot be sold, leased or given away

    And once all the original copyright holders have died the works become public domain.

    That way only the people who are directly resonsible for the work get the credit. And a fucking pox on all middle men whose only purpose is to parasite and fuck up the creative process.
  • by josquin9 (458669) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:13AM (#12745823)
    I can sing "Strawberry Fields Forever" any time I want for my own enjoyment. I have yet to hear someone complaining about copyrights say, "I'll show them. I'll learn to play an instrument and compose my own music." There's a certain leech-like quality to the common Slashdot stance that I'm not sure I agree with. It's one thing to not want to pay for the same work over and over. It's another to think you have the right to absolutely any experience made possible by someone elses labor.

    It was obviously worth the trade off to the musician to put the copyright into the hands of the record company. It's like selling a winning lottery ticket at a discount. It may seem to an outsider like the winner got short changed, but it may just be that they have a different translation factor for the value of money they won't see for years. Artists are not all slaves of the music industry (even if a few have been ripped off.) If you think they're selling themselves or their artistic integrity too cheaply, its because no one is offering them a better price. If alternative distribution channels gave them the benefits they want, they'd move to them. The fact that these channels aren't comparable is apparent from the fact that they aren't moving to them. It's an economic decision that they have the right to make for themselves.

    If you want to control the copyright of music, then create music. Or create an alternative to the current distribution system that meets **ALL** of the artists' needs, so that they will sell their copyrights to you rather than someone else.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:23AM (#12745894) Homepage Journal
    For if you ever wrote a poem you'd have to pay for it, which sounds just crap.

    Well, not necessarily. Nobody's interested in anything you haven't published. Once it is published, it irretrievably becomes part of the public consciousness. You are asking the public to do something very unnatural, which is not to use information that you've deliberately put in their heads. So, I think it is fair that copyright tax should be designed to kick in after publishing.

    Actually, I'd like to do it like this: You are taxed on your copyright based on 1% of your peak annual revenues for a work. If you haven't published, that would be zero. Suppose you made a million dollars this year, your tax would be ten thousand dollars, hardly an amount that would be an economic distortion. Now suppose your million dollar seller isn't selling anymore, and you decide to take it out of print. Then you'd have to decide whether it was worth it to you to keep paying the annual ten grand or to let the work go public domain. If you were planning a sequel, of course you'd pay. If you were just cussed about it, then you'd probably still pay, but the amount you pay would be roughly based on how much money you've made in the past, and the proven potential of your work (and derivative works) to generate revenue.

    There are two reasons I like this way of doing things. First, if you publish some obscure literary work aimed at a small number of people, you aren't asking much of the public not to use your work, so you don't pay much. It scales the benefits and costs of copyright fairly. Secondly, I imagine huge companies with vast libraries of IP would be forced to evaluate that IP and decide whether they're going to do anything with it. Right now they can just leave the creative work of prior generations rotting ina vault somewhere without ever thinking about it. They'll either decide to rerelease it, build some kind of derivative work on it, or let it go into the public domain. Disney can still keep the copyright to Mickey Mouse if they have a sufficiently profitable use for it.
  • Re:Because... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChristTrekker (91442) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:24AM (#12745907)

    Exactly. We wouldn't have many of the great Disney classics like Cinderella if the original story had still been under the same kind of copyright that Disney wants for its own works. Disney obviously benefited from works that had gone into the public domain, stories that are part of our common heritage and culture. After 75 years, Mickey Mouse is part of the popular culture. In a very real sense, he "belongs" to everyone now. It's time to let Mickey go to the people. Copyright is supposed "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". 75 years is more than enough.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zCyl (14362) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:51AM (#12746134)
    Infact, if alot of the larger publishers are pushing for it, it most likely means its not fair.

    Copyright should ONLY serve as an incentive to the artist. Extending them to 100 years presents zero extra incentive, and thus serves no purpose other than reducing public access to information and art.

    The idea of copyright is to increase the total art available, not decrease the availability of art.
  • by Venner (59051) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:54AM (#12746152)
    >>> What if it takes longer than 10-20 years to even have your creation become popular?
    >>>

    Er, that's life? Seriously, if it takes 20 years for your work to become popular, too bad. I realize that popular culture changes, etc, over time, and thus, your work might not be appreciated at first. On the other hand, with anything else except IP, can you expect to be rewarded for work you did two decades earlier? Highly doubtful.

    What you can hope for, if your work suddenly becomes popular later on, is that people will also suddenly respect you as an artist - and want more of your respective work. And hopefully you aren't too old to provide it. Again, too bad if you are.

    Ultimately, I think you need a better marketing/PR person to make your work more initially salable.

    I'm not a hard-core libertarian, but I think a free market with only limited government protections (but certainly some) serves the public best.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shalda (560388) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:17AM (#12746373) Homepage Journal
    Of cousre it's not fair. It constitutes an uncompensated taking by the government and giving it to someone else. I purchase a CD on the expectation that at some specified date it will enter the public domain. Over here in the US, the Constitution explicitly forbids such a taking without compensating me. Unfortunately, Congress never, and the courts rarely, ever read the Constitution.
  • by MourningBlade (182180) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:50AM (#12746726) Homepage

    There's another proposal I've heard: after an initial term (15 or 20 years), you pay a "copyright renewal tax" of $x per work.

    This has several benefits: copyright of immediate works does not require registration, there is no complicated tax system[1], the first - most profitable - period is guaranteed for free, and (most importantly) it becomes easy to discover whether or not a work is in the public domain and who the rights holder is.

    Oh, and it discourages IP hoarding, which is a real problem now. But it doesn't set the bar very high. Even a $1 per 15-year renewal wouldn't be that bad, and would confer numerous benefits.

    Your proposal is an interesting one, though. Yours and this one seem to have slightly different aims.

    It's the difference between taxing production and taxing rent seeking behavior. The proposal is Lawrence Lessig's, and there is much discussion of it out there.

    [1] - the more complicated the calculation is, the more likely it will be abused by "special interests." You also bring in the IRS (auditing, valuation, paperwork). Simple "if it's not in the list as having paid $15, it's public domain" is something the Library of Congress could easily keep track of.

  • by joshcapehart (886693) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:01AM (#12746844)
    So you are sugested something should have to pay taxes to be allowed to keep what they already own? Kindof like a protection racket? Give us money or we give away your property? The tax rate is incredibly high already, we are paying for every service we recieve and more. The idea we should have to pay even more to have some right protected is patentedly absurd. Why not specificaly tax the protection of potatos? Or rutabagas? Maybe we should tax computer ownership?
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StrongAxe (713301) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:16AM (#12746995)
    If the copyright on a work had already expired, it wasn't extended.

    This is not entirely true. For example, the group Renaissance had a song that was based on a piece by Stravinsky which had passed in to the public domain. Subsequent legislation extended the copyright on the original piece, so in a CD re-release of their album had to omit that one song for reasons of copyright.
  • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:17AM (#12747015) Journal
    I am an attorney, but this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice on this type of issue, you're strange even by slashdot standards.

    Anyway, there's a big difference between "not guilty" and "innocent." Neither the United States nor any other Common Law (english speaking) country has an "innocent" verdict.

    If the jury is pretty sure that someone did it, that isn't enough. In fact, most (all?) of the OJ jury thought he did it, but that the proof didn't meet the standards.

    OJ was acquitted due to sloppy legal work, sloppy judging, and the admission of flat out nonsensical quackery as "expert" testimony.

    On top of that, Furman's interview in which he uses that word that he'd testified he'd never said a couple of times in each sentence, and in which he acknowledged planting evidence to frame black defendants he "knew" were guilty should have established reasonable doubt as a matter of law--no reasonable person could lack doubts after hearing that.

    hawk, esq.
  • Re:Because... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by swelke (252267) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:01PM (#12747630) Homepage Journal
    What if it takes longer than 10-20 years to even have your creation become popular?

    And what if it takes 100 years (or 250, or whatever the copyright term is by the time you read this) for you work to become popular? Either way you get screwed over by the system. The copyright system is not, and never was, designed as an ownership system. If it were, then it would be just as wrong to take away that ownership at the end of the copyright term as it was early on in the term.
  • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:10PM (#12748597)
    That's all well and good, but any sort of registration system complicates cross-border copyrights significantly. Does the author have to register and renew in all countries, or do we take a homeland registration as an international copyright?

    The differences in laws between countries would lead to a market for "copyright import agents" who would no doubt do their best to exploit foreigners seeking publication in a taxable country. (In a manner similar to US record companies ripping off rural (mainly African-American) artists' composition royalties in the first half of last century.)

    HAL.

  • by NetSettler (460623) <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @12:36AM (#12754908) Homepage Journal
    If *NO* copyrights whatsoever would exist, then clearly, there would be no need for the GPL.

    Nonsense. In a world without copyright, there would be only the Public Domain. The Public Domain does not prohibit inclusion of content into commercial programs. A world in which that could occur would be very different than a world full of GPL-style sharing. The GPL is a poison pill to direct commercial competition.

    (I'm ignoring Trade Secret and Patent, since they're not mostly not relevant to this discussion.)

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