Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Media United States

'That's All Right' Soon To Enter UK Public Domain 519

Posted by timothy
from the and-that's-all-right dept.
jwlidtnet writes "Reuters is reporting that Elvis's "That's All Right"--currently an unlikely hit in Great Britain--is soon to enter the public domain in that country, followed by other milestones of popular music as Britain's fifty-year protection period comes to an end. Naturally, rights owners are outraged, regarding it as a "wakeup call" for Britain to adopt something similar to the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, to end this "discrepancy between the United States and the EU." Copyright law uniformity has of course been a sore issue in recent years, with the exportation of "DMCA-alike" legislation raising the ire of many. Uniformity on an issue this divisive might be difficult to achieve politically."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

'That's All Right' Soon To Enter UK Public Domain

Comments Filter:
  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Draconix (653959) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:05AM (#9729804)
    Perhaps they could encourage the US to conform to more sane standards that benefit the people instead of the big corporations who want to milk a dead man's music for all the profit they can get out of it.
    • by blorg (726186) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:27AM (#9729852)
      ...is the tone of the article - it doens't even consider that original idea that copyright might be about balance, a privilege accorded with the intent of fostering creation. Rather, it is simply accepted that the natural expiration of these copyrights, which the holders knew would happen, is somehow causing a property loss to the current holders.

      Imagine if you obtained a 50 year lease, and then at the end of those 50 years, the owner wanted the property back. Would you moan to the government about extending your term unilaterally, with no other compensation to the actual owner?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:42AM (#9729882)
        >Imagine if you obtained a 50 year lease, and
        >then at the end of those 50 years, the owner
        >wanted the property back

        Firstly, copyright is not strictly a lease, its more a legally enforced priviledge which can be licensed by the rights holder. IPR is a bit of an accident which has snowballed from the Berne Convention back in 68. Secondly, there is a preceptual problem between Anglo-Saxon and European view of copyright, with the first considering it more from the economic aspecit (promoting the advancement of science/arts) whereas the EU approach it from the moral rights of authors. Thirdly, if you look at modern legislation, say the EU sui genesis Database rights, then you can see they encourage people to sustain their efforts. 15 years renewable everytime you validate/updade the database.

        The practical reality (if you look at software) is that there is a definite shelf life for works ... I suspect that fewer that 0.1% of stuff created has any economic value past a generation ... so there are arguments that government policy should be against rent-seeking behaviour on those accumulating back-catalogs. However, there are so many vested interests in the entertainment industries that it is impossible coming to broad consensus.

        LL
        • by mpe (36238) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:12AM (#9730092)
          The practical reality (if you look at software) is that there is a definite shelf life for works ... I suspect that fewer that 0.1% of stuff created has any economic value past a generation

          For many works the "self life" could probably be meaningfully measured in single digit years (even months).

          so there are arguments that government policy should be against rent-seeking behaviour on those accumulating back-catalogs.

          Such behaviour also tends to be destructive to the vast majority of works, those which have short shelf lives, since these works may cease to exist before they ever become public domain. Copyrights of the form "life plus X" mean that Copyright Libraries simply cannot function in their intended way.
        • by TekPolitik (147802) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:41PM (#9733788) Journal
          Firstly, copyright is not strictly a lease, its more a legally enforced priviledge

          privilege.

          the EU sui genesis Database

          Sui generis, meaning category of their own. Sui genesis would be coming into existence of their own will, which outside of Futurama seems unlikely.

          the Berne Convention back in 68

          Despite the fact that the US only signed on to the Berne Convention in the 80s, it is much older than '68. Try 1886.

          I mention these errors because they are fairly glaring errors which tend to diminish the fact that the substance of the message was spot on. Yes, Continental Europe has a different view of copyright to that of Common Law countries like the US.

          On the other hand, while copyright is not like a lease, it is like a contract with the people. And when authors originally agreed to the 50 year term (by publishing and then claiming copyright), it is incongruous, to say the least, to come back at the end of the 50 years, having taken all or almost all of your benefit under the original agreement, and say you want more. That is exactly what the pro-extension lobby has done, except they have gotten Congress to do it for them by force.

          Now the difference between a contract and a lease is something that only lawyers will normally understand, so to that degree the OP's point was perfectly valid.

        • Copyright protection isn't a privilege, unless you start with the assumption that nobody has the right to publish anything unless the government specifically says so. That's not true, at least not in the US or UK. Rather, copyright is a restriction imposed on everybody other than the copyright holder. But more than that, it is a Contract between the copyright holder and the public. The public pays for the government to protect the material for a limited time, and at the end of that time the public gets free access to the material. That eventual free access is the payoff to the public, in exchange for the expense of maintaining and enforcing the copyright system.

          The copy-making industry, which has largely turned into a rights-control industry, takes the very different position that the only thing the public is ever entitled to is the privilege of paying to use whatever material is offered, under whatever conditions are imposed by the rights holder. This is a new and one-sided philosophy, which does not reflect the way copyright was ever meant to function.

          What's wrong with the US Congress extending copyright for the entire useful life of the material is that the public essentially gets nothing of value when the copyright expires. That's assuming that Congress ever actually does let copyrights expire from now on. The US Supreme Court has specifically ruled that "a limited time" can mean "forever" if Congress says so.
      • by PatientZero (25929) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:17AM (#9729975)
        I wholeheartedly agree. The argument carries a sickening sense of entitlement.

        Jamieson added, "The end of the sound recording copyright on the explosion of British popular music in the late '50s and '60s, not just the Beatles, but many other British artists, is only a short period away."

        It's as if he believes the Beatles were thinking, "If I didn't expect the government to extend copyright terms by 2010, I'd seriously rethink my career."

        The premise of copyrights encouraging innovation and creativity is completely at odds with retroactive extension. And 70 years past the death of the artist is simply insanity. I don't expect my employer to continue paying my salary to my hairs after I die. Of course, it's no surprise that the corporate holders of copyrights (e.g. Disney through Sonny Bono) are the ones raising the stink.

        On the other hand, I'd really like to see Elvis earn enough money for a flight back from Alpha Centauri.

        • by jadavis (473492) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:22AM (#9730121)
          The premise of copyrights encouraging innovation and creativity is completely at odds with retroactive extension.

          I don't think retroactive extension is inhenrently at odds with encouraging innovation. Practically, it's most likely motivated by things other than the public good (i.e. lobbiests, &c.), but it can certainly be justified.

          At it's heart, copyright is about property rights. Strong protection of property rights encourages investment, which is a good thing for the economy.

          However, property isn't as clear-cut as we'd like to think. Consider owning a piece of land: you don't usually have mineral rights, and the government can force you to sell if they want to build a highway. If you own some piece of a river upstream, you can't build a dam and charge the downstream people for water. You can't build a well and drain the entire underground water supply. And then all material goods are, at some level, made from these minerals. But I digress...

          Patents are a strange form of property, because many patents cover ideas that may be arrived at without the patent holder ever existing. So that's why they're much more limited in timeframe.

          Copyrights are actually the one form of property that you can reasonably claim: "Nobody would ever have this if I didn't create it." It's a very pure creation that doesn't depend on any prior property of any kind. So, it might actually be reasonable to give infinite ownership to the creator. Probably not a good practical idea, but reasonable people could at least make a good moral argument.

          Now, the word "infinite" runs us right into another practical problem. People die eventually, and the moral argument really only lasts a few generations (for most people).

          And all this makes the "X years plus life of author" make sense, I suppose. It's a balance. I think it would probably be best, from an economic standpoint, to have X = 25 years. But I have no real justification for that at all. Each person I expect has their own moral thresholds. My moral threshold would be much higher actually (X=100 years maybe), but from an economic standpoint, I really hate to see a valuable work go to waste.

          P.S. The whole idea that ideas have zero marginal cost to reproduce introduces complexities that have been hashed out many times before, so I'll stay away from that one.

          • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:13AM (#9730224)
            "So, it might actually be reasonable to give infinite ownership to the creator. Probably not a good practical idea, but reasonable people could at least make a good moral argument."

            Why? I haven't seen "a good moral argument" for that case.

            But I can make an easy argument NOT to make them infinite. The person who created the work will not live forever.

            "And all this makes the "X years plus life of author" make sense, I suppose. It's a balance."

            Yet 50 years is ALSO "a balance".

            What is the criteria for choosing one over the other?

            "My moral threshold would be much higher actually (X=100 years maybe), but from an economic standpoint, I really hate to see a valuable work go to waste."

            Why is your "moral threshold" that high? Why do you not consider economics in your "moral threshold"?

            The government (funded by the people) has to protect those copyrights. Where is the benefit to the people of that action if the works only enter the PUBLIC domain long after they've ceased to be of any value to the PUBLIC?

            Your position would be stronger if the INDIVIDUALS held the copyrights to their creations.

            But now it is mostly the corporations that hold those copyrights.

            The extensions are designed so that every bit of value can be extracted long before the works end up in the public domain.

            Which is why Disney fights for extensions every time Mickey Mouse is in danger of hitting the public domain.
            • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by jadavis (473492) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:43AM (#9730295)
              But I can make an easy argument NOT to make them infinite. The person who created the work will not live forever.

              Isn't that what I said?

              And yes, 50 years is a balance too. I never suggested otherwise, that's why I left it "X".

              If someone creates a work and doesn't want to share it with me, that's their business. What if Disney made Mickey Mouse and then threw it away? Oh well, I can't stop them.

              I think probably the most important thing is stability. Investors will get scared if the government doesn't protect old copyrights as much as they do new copyrights because it's an indicator that they might not protect new copyrights as much as old copyrights. I don't think they should have increased it to 70 years in the first place, because it creates more problems than it solves.

              Stability is very important when it involves something as fundamental as property rights. We can't change copyright law around every few years because of a change of public opinion, because changing copyright protection is, in and of itself, bad for the economy.
              • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:10AM (#9730360)
                "If someone creates a work and doesn't want to share it with me, that's their business. What if Disney made Mickey Mouse and then threw it away? Oh well, I can't stop them."

                And their work will NEVER enter public domain. Copyright only protects work that is distributed.

                "And yes, 50 years is a balance too. I never suggested otherwise, that's why I left it "X"."

                But you also said...
                "And all this makes the "X years plus life of author" make sense, I suppose. It's a balance."

                How about 1 year then? That too is "a balance".

                "I think probably the most important thing is stability. Investors will get scared if the government doesn't protect old copyrights as much as they do new copyrights because it's an indicator that they might not protect new copyrights as much as old copyrights."

                What "investors" are you talking about?

                "Stability is very important when it involves something as fundamental as property rights. We can't change copyright law around every few years because of a change of public opinion, because changing copyright protection is, in and of itself, bad for the economy."

                How so is changinge copyright protection "bad for the economy"?
                • by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:30AM (#9730431)
                  Because nobody can trust the period of copyright not to change.

                  You, the author, created a work in the 60's or whatever. Society granted you, clearly and under no uncertain terms, copyright over that work for say 50 years. You understood that 50 years later, your work would lose all copyright protections, and fall into the public domain.

                  Society at large understood this too... and *expects* that work to fall into the public domain on the required date.

                  If we are going to keep retroactively changing copyright periods, why bother putting a limit on it at all?

                  Just because it has economic value to the owner does not mean it should continue to be protected.. the owner should work on NEW stuff, not continue to sit on the old.

              • by draevil (598113) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @09:18AM (#9730664)
                "I think probably the most important thing is stability. Investors will get scared if the government doesn't protect old copyrights as much as they do new copyrights because it's an indicator that they might not protect new copyrights as much as old copyrights."

                I don't follow the logic there. You're suggesting that because we have a sensible law that means that copyright expires after 50 years, "investors" will think that a copyright which is 5 years old is "not as protected?"

                Here's the point: laws should not be written around the whims of "investors."

                I know it's a hard point to get in today's world where it seems that large corporations might as well just bypass the whole legislature and write the darn statutes themselves (simply because it saves time and does away with the pretence that our representatives can think for themselves) but it is the critical point here.

                Sometimes laws are not made to "help the economy", they're written because they're morally the better course of action. Copyright is not a right, it's a privilege extended by government to afford a balance between the creator of a work and those who may become dependent upon it.

                If these corporations and lobbying groups are now complaining that they "didn't know" that this time limit was approaching and that it's an awful shame as despite the fact that the artist is long dead, they're still able to part people with their money then I suggest that they hire better advisors. It's not as if the 50 year time period was a closely guarded secret now is it?
              • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @10:09AM (#9730941)
                This is the problem when you view copyrights from the perspective taught in business school.

                First of all, copyright covers the right to control the distribution of your work. Songs, books, movies, etc are not a "property" and as such are dealt with by a different set of laws. Unfortunately business folks like to talk about "Intellectual Property", but there really is no such thing.

                Copyrights quite simply are an agreement made between a government and an individual to allow that individual a time limited monopoly on distributing his work. When the limit is reached, the work falls into the public domain.

                Copyright is a mechanism who's original purpose was to encourage creativity. The limited time monopoly allowed creators to profit from their works rather than others, but another reason for the limit in time IS TO ENCOURAGE TO CREATE AGAIN. Yet people have twisted this into something it was not intended to be. It was not meant to be a permanent source of income for the life of the author, it wasn't meant to be a right that could be passed on via inheritance for x number of generations to benefit from, nor was it meant for companies like Disney to remain the sole entity to be able to use those works forever.

                Looking at it from a few feet back from an economic perspective, what do you think would generate greater economic benefit? One company profiting off from a work indefinitely, or a 1000 companies all being able to profit from that work?

                That's why there is a (supposed) limit on the term of copyright. At some point that work needs to fall into the public domain so that the work may profit all of society and not just one person or company. And by profit, I don't mean just monetarily.
              • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by midav (63224) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @10:53AM (#9731200)
                Since you have started from the wrong proposition that IP is a real property, which is itself controversial, your logical constructs are simply wrong.

                Your argument, that if an author would not create a work it would have never existed, is as lame as Jack Valenti's argument that all creative works need proprietary ownership to be preserved. It can be argued that if you did not build up on existing culture, you would have never created your work in the first place. So, you get from public almost fair trade to start with. However, public recognizes necessity to compensate authors, inventors and the like fairly in order to encourage this type of activity. And this is where 'mental property' rights are coming from.

                Unfortunately, for practical reasons, monetary value of creative works which are subject of copyright and patent laws may not be easily evaluated. This is the only reason for the 'limited monopoly' bargain, otherwise, public would fairly compensate an author, allienate his/her work and leave to him/her only the honorary attribution.

                Thomas Jefferson conceived that 14 years of monopoly is enough for an author to try to profit from their works. And this is under late XVIII- early XIX centuries means of of communication in the United States. In XXI century, when RIAA posesses means of promotion and distribution far beyond XVIII-XIX centuries authors' wildest dreams copyrights should be shorter . And corporate copyrights should be even shorter still.

                Since the copyright law arises from the rights the public granted to the authors or their proxies on the condition of fair balance,

                the first thing is that the period of a work's copyright protection must be the one, when the work was made accessible to public, because that was a contract at that time and an author knew the terms and still decided to publish. It must not be retroactively extended. This will create fair stability for both the public and the vested interests.

                Second, term 'limited times' must be taken not literally but rather practically. It is just unacceptable that 3 generations of the mankind are and being deprived from the rights the previous generations used to have.

                Third, pigopolies akin Disney Corporation, RIAA, MPAA, Clear Channel, etc. are unacceptable and must be outlawed as a matter of bargain or, at least, their rights (copy and otherwise) must be adjusted to reflect their ever increasing ability to promote and dissiminate creative works, in order to keep the balance fair.

          • by abulafia (7826) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:53AM (#9730316)
            If you're going to talk about moral rights, it would be much better to explain how you reach your conclusions. Saying things like:

            My moral threshold would be much higher actually (X=100 years maybe), but from an economic standpoint, I really hate to see a valuable work go to waste.

            in a vaccum doesn't get anywhere.

            Let me give you a different argument, based on some of your own reasoning: you recognize that physical property rights such as land ownership are limited in a number of ways. One of those ways is that land owners pay taxes on the land. Now, those taxes go to support all sorts of unrelated things, but one of the justifications for that tax is that society pays for defending your property rights.

            If taxing your land to pay for defending your rights is sensible, then, especially as we move to more expansive IP protections including criminal sanctions against infringers, shouldn't IP be taxed?

            One could, of course, abandon a copyright, allowing it to enter the public domain, and not have to pay the tax.

            • If taxing your land to pay for defending your rights is sensible, then, especially as we move to more expansive IP protections including criminal sanctions against infringers, shouldn't IP be taxed?

              An interesting thought. I'm against taxes of most every description, but I'm also deeply troubled by the current state of CR/Patent/TM abuse.

              The obvious issues with your thought have to do with the basis value of the IP in question and the actual effect enacting such a tax will have.

              If we appraise a certin I

          • by Znork (31774) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:56AM (#9730322)
            "So, it might actually be reasonable to give infinite ownership to the creator."

            Laws are rarely only to the benefit of specific individuals. If they are, it's often a sign of corruption. The purpose of law in a democracy should be to maximize the good for society as a whole, which sometimes coincides with creating a benefit for certain individuals, but which should never benefit individuals just 'because'.

            The natural 'right' of a creator is the right to keep his creations to himself, should he wish to. The natural 'right' of everyone else is to imitate, embellish and retell those creations, the tradition on which creativity throughout the ages has built upon. Indeed, what the very concept of human learning builds upon.

            Copyright not only grants a new right to the creator, it also takes away natural rights from everyone else. It does this for the very specific reason of benefitting society as a whole by encouraging creators to share and to create more, while still letting the rest of society engage in their rights after a while.

            "And all this makes the "X years plus life of author" make sense, I suppose. It's a balance. I think it would probably be best, from an economic standpoint, to have X = 25 years."

            How does that benefit society? Will the average writer write more if he will get money after his death? Or will he create less when he needs write nothing else? What benefit outweighs limiting the freedom of everyone else for that time?

            What economic and social benefits would we have seen if Disney were not allowed to make films based on old stories? What would we gain if nobody was allowed to use and adapt Mark Twains books?

            Copyright not only promotes creativity, it also prevents the evolution and adaption of works, and in the case of abandoned works, it can remove them from humanity as a whole.
          • by Ben Hutchings (4651) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:16AM (#9730377) Homepage
            Copyrights are actually the one form of property that you can reasonably claim: "Nobody would ever have this if I didn't create it." It's a very pure creation that doesn't depend on any prior property of any kind.

            No-one lives in a vacuum - writers, directors and musicians are influenced by existing works and may draw on the public domain as much as they want (Disney provides prime examples of the latter). No creative work is entirely original.

          • by The Conductor (758639) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:49AM (#9730509)

            Copyrights are actually the one form of property that you can reasonably claim: "Nobody would ever have this if I didn't create it....So, it might actually be reasonable to give infinite ownership to the creator."

            Even if you insist on treating copyrights as the moral equivalent of property (which is not the Anglo-saxon model, of course), perpetual copyright is still inconsistent with our notions of conventional property. Limits on the scope of property claims have had limits for centuries.

            Ownership of real property (real property==land) gives the right to refuse admittance. But you cannot buy up every piece of property surrounding someone who won't sell, and then hold the isolated property hostage; you have to provide reasonable accomodation for travel. Right of property is limited by right of way (the right to travel over another's property), or we would all be prisoners on our own land. That common law priciple has since refined into things like easments (the right to string power lines over your land, etc.). Others have mentioned mineral rights, which separate from ordinary property rights when a mineral deposit stretches under many separate properties and it is impractical to negotiate with many individual owners.

            Even personal (non-land) property is subject to limits. A taxicab, for example, can be commandeered in times of public emergency. Personal effects can be siezed for evidence in a criminal investigation.

            In this light, a time limit on copyrights (which represent something like 1% of the value to the creator, when adjusted for present value) are a perfectly reasonable limit on copyright-as-property, a sort of easment, if you will. Whereas perpetual copyright would be unique among property rights in its absoluteness.

          • by cardshark2001 (444650) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @09:19AM (#9730671)
            At it's heart, copyright is about property rights.

            Malarkey. At its heart, copyright is about "promot[ing] science and the useful arts", just like it says in the constitution. That's why copyright terms in the founders time were much shorter. The point of putting copyright in the constitution was to balance the author's right to make some money from their work with the public's right to have useful arts. That balance is now broken, and in a big way. That's why the constitution says "to secure, for limited times". The life of the author plus 70 years is NOT a limited time, not by any reasonable standard. Everyone who was alive at the creation of the work will be dead by its expiration. It's a travesty, and it's unconstitutional, regardless of what our lousy supreme court says.

          • Very long term copyright (life+70):
            Historical works of art are un-available to the public

            Relatively long term copyright (life to +25):
            Horrid resale of nostalga CD's, please give us fresh music

            Long Term Copyright (50 to life)
            People get there moneys worth, can support there retirement on previous works.

            Short Term Copyright (25 years)
            Horridly large numbers of cheep cover-versions and compliation CD's which erote the public sanity.

            Very Short Term Copyright (5 years)
            People can't make any money on w
          • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @10:01AM (#9730898) Homepage Journal

            P.S. The whole idea that ideas have zero marginal cost to reproduce introduces complexities that have been hashed out many times before, so I'll stay away from that one.

            Don't! Because this is precisely the point where your misunderstanding begins.

            Physical property is naturally limited. You and I can't both possess and use my car at the same time and that's the reason why society has established this whole complex infrastructure for managing property rights, because physical objects and places are inherently scarce. If we abandoned the notion of physical property rights, there would *still* only be one possessor of each physical object.

            Intellectual property is naturally limitless. You and I can both possess and use my idea at the same time, and so can everyone else. There is no inherent limit on the propagation and use of ideas, and there is, therefore, no need to artificially impoverish some people by not allowing them to use some ideas. If we abandoned the notion of intellectual property rights, everyone would have the use of every idea they could find.

            Sure, if you hadn't created your idea/music/painting/whatever, then no one would have it, but that's no reason we as a society should expend effort and money helping you to retain control of it, and thereby intellectually impoverishing some portion of us. While it makes sense for our police, prosecutors and courts to help arbitrate the natural scarcity of physical objects, there's absolutely no moral reason why they should be charged with maintaining an artificial scarcity of your idea.

            Well, there is one reason: By maintaining a limited and temporary artificial scarcity we can encourage the production of more ideas that will become available for all of society to use. But that bargain only makes sense if it eventually *does* become available for all of society. Otherwise, why shouldn't we just allow nature to take its course?

            I think the single largest mistake people make when understanding intellectual property rights is to forget that there are several significant *costs* to society related to the enforcement of artificial limitations. Creators who wish to have society protect them in this way have to provide a reason why we should do it, but many seem to think it's a given that we should, and demand that society demonstrate a reason why we should not.

        • No, but the beatles were thinking after the first album "Is it worth the time and effort to record a good album in a good studio (as opposed to some garrage) with good producers..." Now as musicians they would produce anyway, but it would be in concerts more because they were fun, and if you screwed up everyone lived with it instead of expecting another retake.

          Lets take the simpler case: authors would write if there was a market or not. However by allowing the author to quit their day job and write full t

      • by Tim C (15259) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:43AM (#9730036)
        That's not really a very good analogy, unless you consider society to be the sole owner of any created non-physical works (ideas, songs, etc). I know that some people do, and that they make some quite strong arguments in their favour (building on what has come before, owing your education and inspiration to all those around you, and them to others, and so on, etc), but I personally can't quite make the leap to thinking of anything that I create being the property of everyone, with me having no rights over it at all.

        I see copyright as a reasonable compromise - let me say who can and cannot copy stuff I create, for a limited period of time, so that I may profit from it. Like money or loathe it, we all need it - our modern way of living just doesn't lend itself to a pure barter economy.

        I'm not leasing anything from (or to) anyone when I create a copyrightable work. I am entering into an agreement with society, that people may not copy what I did verbatim for some period of time, so that I may (attempt to) earn sufficient money to make my living creating more things, such that everyone benefits. I get to live and do what I enjoy, you get to enjoy the fruits of my labours.

        I agree that copyright holders should not be granted essentially indefinite extensions. I also think that the period should be different for different types of work - there seems little benefit to society to opening up 50 (or even 10) year old computer code for copying, for example. I don't think that that invalidates the concept of copyright, however; I can't see how else the creators of such works could be compensated if not for copyright. Musicians can tour, but authors, etc? Patronage would work for a small number of creators, but then only the truly exceptional and truly lucky would be able to create full-time. Sure, some people would do so, no matter the hardships they had to endure (and I consider them to be truly exceptional). I still think that the nett result would be a drastic decrease in the number doing so, however, and the amount of stuff being created. How that would enrich society escapes me.
        • by mpe (36238) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:20AM (#9730114)
          I don't think that that invalidates the concept of copyright, however; I can't see how else the creators of such works could be compensated if not for copyright. Musicians can tour, but authors, etc? Patronage would work for a small number of creators, but then only the truly exceptional and truly lucky would be able to create full-time.

          The problem with this line of reasoning is that "unsucessful" authors are in the majority and even sucessful authors need not be motivated by the idea of making money from their work. e.g. JK Rowling did not create Harry Potter because she hoped to become the best selling author in history.
          Even if you can demonstrate that copyright provides a prositive incentive for creation there is the issue of how much (and what form of) copyright is optimal.
      • ...is the tone of the article - it doens't even consider that original idea that copyright might be about balance, a privilege accorded with the intent of fostering creation.

        With retrospectivly increasing copyright terms, on existing works, doing nothing to encourage creation. If anythig long, and especially increasing, copyright terms discourage the creation of new works.

        Rather, it is simply accepted that the natural expiration of these copyrights, which the holders knew would happen, is somehow causin
      • Imagine if you obtained a 50 year lease, and then at the end of those 50 years, the owner wanted the property back. Would you moan to the government about extending your term unilaterally, with no other compensation to the actual owner?

        If there was good odds the government would side with me, sure, why not?

        -jim

    • Not sure the article is factually right. Part of the reason for thE Sonny Bono act was to harmonize with the EU. I believe Germany and most of the other states are author's life + 70 years. + 50 years is the minimum allowed by the Berne convention.

      Blame the convention, no the US--before Sonny Bono act, we were +50.
    • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:43AM (#9729889)
      Well, I hardy think it's fair to fault members of corporations for wanting to protect their money making assets. People working in the recording industry have as much of a right to lobby for rights as you have to lobby against them. I don't see anything wrong with that. These laws do, after all, benefit some people. It's not like corporations are just big evil moneymaking machines. They are run by people just like any other business, and those people have needs and desires. If people in these corporations command more influence in congress, it is only because they care about it more.

      I have to admit, though, that the really long copyrights in the US are a bit unreasonable. How long do these people need to own the work before it makes them enough money. Patents only last 1/5 as long, and that amount of time seems more than sufficient to recoup the typically much larger R&D costs associated with patents.
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nathanh (1214) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:30AM (#9730005) Homepage
        People working in the recording industry have as much of a right to lobby for rights as you have to lobby against them.

        Sure, but I'd prefer it if they didn't lobby for retrospective rights. Elvis' songs were produced 50 years ago with the full knowledge that 50 years was all the copyright protection they got. Now that the 50 years is almost up the publishers are trying to extend the copyright.

        It's as annoying as those people who build their houses next to airports and then complain about the noise. They knew what they were getting into when they built there!

        If copyright extension acts only affected works produced after the date the act went into effect then I think there would be fewer complaints from the rest of us.

      • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TyrranzzX (617713)
        Well, I hardy think it's fair to fault members of corporations for wanting to protect their money making assets.

        Tell that to the 5 year old in south africa working his ass off to make Nike Shoes at $.02 a pair, or his parents who are working to make a bit more at gunpoint. Need I point out Digital Rights Management hardware/software, or do you have enough wits about you to realize everything you just said was so incredibly wrong?

        Here's another one for you; UNICOR, a prison-industry advocate who empl
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Funny)

      by E_elven (600520) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:45AM (#9729896) Journal
      What do you mean, 'dead'?
  • Incentive (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugbread (599172) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:09AM (#9729809)
    If this recording enters the public domain, what incentive will Elvis have to produce new music?
    • Re:Incentive (Score:5, Informative)

      by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:15AM (#9729967) Journal
      If this recording enters the public domain, what incentive will Elvis have to produce new music?
      As a Memphian, I hope the answer is "none." We already get invaded twice a year (once for Elvis Birth Week, and once for Elvis Death Week with Maximum Candlelight Vigil Ceremony Love), that's plenty. Last week we had the additional influx of tourists bleating about "That's All Right's" 50th anniversary and the worldwide coverage it brought. It's actually rather interesting that nobody mentioned that a copyright was lapsing - particularly on that song - until after the fact...

      Anyway, if it turns out that Elvis is still alive, and he records a duet with Tupac or Biggie, my head is going to explode. No more incentives for Elvis to produce new music, please :)
    • Re:Incentive (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bruthasj (175228)
      FYI--Elvis has already entered the public domain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:11AM (#9729813)
    Okay I wanna know if there is ANY possible justification for this except PURE
    GREED. And I don't mean the good kind of greed that drives competition,
    innovation, and creation of new music.

    Elvis is dead. He doesn't need the money. His estate run by spongers sure
    doesn't need it. When he wrote the song, in fact, copyright law was less
    draconian than it is now. So he certainly wasn't factoring in a copyright
    extensions when he wrote the song "Hey, I wonder if I should write a song
    today. Well, if they don't extend copyright in 2005, I won't, I have better
    things to do."

    Shouldn't copyright be used to *encourage new music*?? This is just sick. I
    wish they would just STOP extending copyright. I wish the governments around
    the world would just say, OKAY YOU'VE HAD ENOUGH.

    I wish they would view copyright as an *exchange* between the copyright holder
    and the public, and not just some formality that the record labels have to go
    through every few years to keep extending it.

    Can you think of any other situation where you can just go up to the
    government and say, hey, I'd like to extract money from society for another 20
    years?
    • by kuroth (11147) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:44AM (#9729892)
      > When he wrote the song

      Elvis didn't write That's All Right. It was written by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup.

      The article is talking about the copyright to Elvis's recording of the tune. The tune itself is presumably already in the public domain in Great Britain.

    • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:00AM (#9729932)
      Well, copyright holders should be given the choice when their works are released to the public:

      -You can have iron-clad digital restrictions on your media making it absolutely impossible for end-users to do anything other than what's explicitly approved. If you choose this route, your max copyright term is 8 years, then it's completely public domain.

      -You can ease up the restrictions, allow some free use (academic, reviews and the like), device and timeshifting, backup copies, downloadable content, etc. Then your copyright is good for 30 years.

      -You can tell the public that they can do whatever they want with your creation, so long as no money is being made from any derived works - then the copyright is 50 years after the date of the death of the creator.

      N.
      • by TravisWatkins (746905) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:30AM (#9730004) Homepage
        So, does the GPL fit into #1 or #2? I'm leaning toward #1.

        Shit, there went my karma.
      • by johannesg (664142) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:10AM (#9730217)
        How about this: copyright lasts for only ten years and requires a small fee to register. After ten years you can extend for another ten years, but the fee doubles. This process can go in indefinitely, allowing you to keep going as long as the work is worth the money. For a fee of, say, $100, Disney could keep Mickey Mouse under copyright for at least 200 years (at which point the fee exceeds $100,000,000 - is Mickey really worth that much? If so, prove it by paying...).

        As part of the registraton, a copy of the work is stored in some central vault. It will be available from that location the moment the copyright expires. This avoids "misunderstandings" of copyright law with DRM-technology not allowing anything to pass into public domain, even after copyright ends.

        This mechanism allows reasonable copyright protection for those who desire it, for a period of their own choosing, but limited by the value of the product being copyrighted. Thus things of limited commercial value will quickly pass into public domain (keeping the public at large happy with a steady stream of crap movies, older books, ROMs, and what more) and things of great commercial value can be kept locked up somewhat longer (thus keeping big corporations like Disney happy). And as a steady source of revenue, it should appeal to the government as well.

        As for Elvis, his heirs will have the choice: are his songs worth $3200 (each)? If so, it is once again time to pay.

    • Shouldn't copyright be used to *encourage new music*?? This is just sick. I wish they would just STOP extending copyright. I wish the governments around the world would just say, OKAY YOU'VE HAD ENOUGH.

      Even better would be if when governments were next asked for another retrospective extension they would turn around and set a flat 20 year term on everything. Though no doubt that would have the middle men and those who produced a "one hit wonder" in the early 80's crying in their beer.
  • by lpontiac (173839) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:12AM (#9729820)
    And Elvis and the record companies knew it 50 years ago, when they were making the music in the first place.

  • by alanw (1822) * <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:17AM (#9729832) Homepage
    If copyright law is changed so that it extends some number of years after the death of the artists, rather than from the date of release of the recording, will we see the likes of 2 year old "Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily", "Fifi Trixibelle" and "Moon Unit" banging a drum on the backing track to prolong copyright as much as possible?
    • Nah, I think we'll more likely see some spectacular monetary-driven killings instead.

      All that old artists that are still alive do is claim their copyright from their Good Ole Days. Yet those same artists, dead, will give you all their work for free within the timespan of a few years!

      Which, of course, leads us to our Business Plan for the next few years:

      1. Alter Copyright Law
      2. Kill Metallica
      3. ???
      4. Profit!

      I thank you all.
  • Lets see ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shri (17709) <shriramc@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:19AM (#9729839) Homepage
    >> Uniformity on an issue this divisive might be difficult to achieve politically.

    Specially since Blair has been accused of letting Dubya have his way on one to many an issue.

    Given that this is mostly a commercial issue (national or global security is hardly at stake), I have a feeling Blair and the Labour party will politely ask the Americans to go shove it where the sun don't shine and score with the masses on both sides of the pond.
    • Re:Lets see ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordK2002 (672528) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:36AM (#9730017)
      Specially since Blair has been accused of letting Dubya have his way on one to many an issue. Given that this is mostly a commercial issue (national or global security is hardly at stake), I have a feeling Blair and the Labour party will politely ask the Americans to go shove it where the sun don't shine and score with the masses on both sides of the pond.
      Yes, because Blair has such a impressive track record for doing what the masses want and telling the Americans to go shove it.

      K

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:19AM (#9729840)
    ..in japan.
  • Discrepancy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arioch of Chaos (674116) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:21AM (#9729843) Journal
    About the alleged "discrepancy between the United States and the EU." - Many (most?) European countries have life plus 70. I was surprised to find that Great Britain does not.
    • The UK does have life plus 70, certainly for published works - writers get copyright for life, then 70 years. Some writers try to be sneaky to get extend this law, by, for example, crediting their youngest daughter as a co-author, even if she is only two years old. However, I'm guessing either laws for recorded music are different, or the law changed after this song was published.
    • Re:Discrepancy? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BenjyD (316700) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:57AM (#9729921)
      google is your friend: From here [copyrightservice.co.uk]: Sound Recordings and broadcast programmes are 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which work was created/released. Everything else, including the copyright of the actual music, is life+70 years, or "an insane length of time" as I like to call it.
      • Re:Discrepancy? (Score:3, Informative)

        by TomV (138637)
        Everything else, including the copyright of the actual music, is life+70 years

        Which makes the whole issue of "That's All Right" somewhat confused, in that Arthur Crudup, who wrote the song, died in 1974, so while it will be possible to sell the Elvis recording without paying the Presley estate, it will still be illegal unless the current rights-holders to Crudup's work get their cut until 2044.
  • If individual artists controlled their own music, we wouldn't have anyone lobbying for insane copyright terms, because individuals eventually die, so there's no one to keep lobbying for more and more extensions. The problem with corporations is that they're immortal, so there's no end to the insanity. Believe me, if they get the term extended to 95 years, the Slashdot headline in July 2049 will be about how the Elvis recordings are about to enter the public domain, and the music industry is lobbying the government to extend the term to 150 years so they can keep making money. Every time I read about the RIAA or IFPI, I'm reminded that there are ETLAs far more annoying than GNAA.
  • by Rumagent (86695)
    The IFPI has started a campaign to raise awareness among policy makers and legislators on the issue. It targets EU member states, the EC and the Parliament.


    "We are using any opportunity we have to highlight the issue during meetings with the commission and MEPs," said Brussels-based IFPI senior communications executive Francine Cunningham.


    Am I the only one who gets the image of an eight-year old screaming "Giv me that it's mine!!".

  • Jurisdiction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beautyon (214567) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:26AM (#9729850) Homepage
    Anyone remember A Little Less Conversation Elvis vs JXL? [wikipedia.org] it reached Number One in 20 countries, including the USA.

    This song becoming a hit is more likely than one might imagine.

    As for "rights owners" we need to say who this phrase really means: The American monopoly music companies.

    They have already said that they will try and block the importation of products containing legally produced public domain works [mit.edu]; it would be the most delicious of situations if this song did become a huge smash after it entered the public domain in the UK, and the RIAA tried to block its importation.

    One thing is for certain; as more and more works enter the public domain here in the UK, the likelyhood of a hit coming from one of these works increases. This confrontation is going to happen.
  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:27AM (#9729853)
    But Elvis is alive! I just saw him leaving the building!
  • by tezza (539307) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:31AM (#9729861)
    Bob the Builder sings Elvis?? Oooh, this Christmas in London is going to be hell.

    I could use another 20+ years for this attrocity to wait.

  • by Quirk (36086) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:43AM (#9729891) Homepage Journal
    It might serve to look at the release of the material into a market as a contract. If the copyright holders choose to release the material into a market then they also choose, tacitly, to accept the conditions imposed by the copyright laws of the market, in this case a 50 year limit. If, as in this case, the Americans don't want to play by the British rules they should keep their product at home.
  • Loophole? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BelugaParty (684507) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:46AM (#9729900)
    In written works, translations are often a way for companies to maintain copywrites. For instance: Kafka's works can be held by a publishing company based on one persons translation, while another person's rendition can be public domain. Often times, the version with copywrite will be touted as the definitive, most accurate version. To avoid argument, I'll assume this claim is true.


    With record companies, I wonder if they can release low quality versions into public domain, while maintaining rights to higher quality versions. So they can release 96kbit mp3 into public domain, but a CD quality version maintains or recieves copywrite.


    But I think this scenario will definately have interesting results. If the track does become a hit and is public domain, how will companies distinguish their final products from one another? Will it come down to the case, additional tracks, a DVD movie?... Other ways of looping copywrite into the equation? I will be waiting for the outcome.

    • Re:Loophole? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThatsNotFunny (775189)
      1) A translation will not change the copyright of the original work. The publisher of a new translation has no rights to the original, or any other translations, only the new work.

      2) Quality of the media has nothing to do with the copyright.

      3) There are actually two copyrights involved with music, the song itself, and the recording of that song. That's why you'll usually see a (P) and a (C) on recordings.
  • by eric76 (679787) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:46AM (#9729901)
    I suspect that in most cases, the copyright owners make most of the money on their copyrights in the first five years or so.

    By ten years, most of the copyrights are nearly worthless.

    I don't see any reason why copyrights should extend past twenty years.

    If copyrights are the property of their owners, why not treat them as property and require that property taxes be paid on copyrights and allow the copyright owner to make the material public docmain if the property taxes exceed the income from the copyrights?
    • by MalachiConstant (553800) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:28AM (#9729999)
      I think copyright is WAAAAY to excessive, but your solution has a fatal flaw.

      Any kind of media created by you has an automatic copyright. You don't need to register with anyone or pay anything.

      So, imagine an indie band who just likes making music. Are you saying that they should have to pay to prevent their 100 copies of their CD they recorded in their garage from being duplicated and sold by someone who keeps all the profit? I bought an old No Doubt CD that was made before they made it big*. If they were selling the CD for, say $5 when it came out should they have to pay $1000 per year to keep it from the public domain?

      Clearly they wouldn't do this, so when they had recieved more exposure and people wanted to hear their early stuff they wouldn't get any money for it.

      You can bet there would be people who did nothing but monitor what went into the public domain and make money selling it for redistribution, sampling, etc.

      In addition to this no large creator of any kind of media could afford to keep all their work in copyright. You would either have to set the price for the "property tax" so low that the studios would just copyright everything and it would only be a burden on small artists, or high enough that no independent artist could possibly afford it, and only coporate owned media would be copyrighted.

  • Irony (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:50AM (#9729908)
    From the article:

    "It's scary," Welch said during a 37-date sold-out tour of the United Kingdom. "I only became aware of the situation last year ... Our stuff is still selling, and there's about 250 various compilation albums out there worldwide. I'd like the period extended as soon as possible, and 95 years sounds good to me."

    Yeah, sounds like he'd really be struggling if he lost the income from that 50-year-old song.
  • If you haven't already made enough money off something 50 years after it was created, then maybe it's not worth keeping hold of.

    I bet we'll see a change to the law slipped through before the end of the year, though. Blair will do anything that the Americans tell him just so that he can have his ego-trip of thinking he's Bush's best friend, even as Bush pounds him in the ass. The man's a fucking disgrace to this country.

  • Shouldnt an Elvis song's copyright duration be determined by the laws in the country where the work was recorded?

    From my knowledge of copyright law, the duration of the copyright that is effective worldwide is specified by the laws in which the copyright was obtained. Thus, this song will expire when US law says it expires, not UK law.

    Or is someone able to clarify this?
  • by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:56AM (#9729920) Journal
    Jamieson added, "The end of the sound recording copyright on the explosion of British popular music in the late '50s and '60s, not just the Beatles, but many other British artists, is only a short period away. If nothing is done they will suffer loss of income not just for their sales in the U.K. but their sales across the globe."
    Pardon me, but so fucking what?

    The late '50s and '60s was more than 40 years ago! Who guaranteed anyone a right to still be profiting from music recorded before man set foot on the moon, especially when those artists are no longer around? The living Beatles, the heirs to Elvis Presley Enterprises, and anyone else who has been suckling at the copyright teat for 40 years should be grateful for what they have. Quit whining about "loss of income" from something you didn't lift a finger to produce.

    I'm lucky to be paid a decent wage for the work I do today, and I'll consider myself fortunate if my job is still around next month. I sure as hell don't have any expectation that, 40 years from now, I'll still be making money from something I did today! Much less that my kids, if I ever choose to have any, will see any benefit beyond what I manage to save up and pass on to them. Even pension plans are a dying breed here in the US; when once a widow could count on her husband's years of duty to his company to provide some meager living for her when she survived him, nowadays it's generally left up to Social Security.

    Why, then, is it so different when it comes to copyrighted works, music in particular? Why is it that the descendants of dead musicians feel that they're due millions of dollars for their parents' (or even grandparents') work, eternally? I don't get it. Maybe I should have been born to musicians.
  • It's only the producer's and performers' rights that expire after 50 years in the EU. This means that you won't have to pay the performers or the record company to use the record. However, the rights of the composer and text author will remain to 70 years after their death (AKA forever minus a day).

    If you spread the recording without some sort of agreement (through contract or compulsory licensing) with the composer or writer, you'll acquire liability and might very well be sued.
  • by ites (600337) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:03AM (#9729943) Journal
    It's an attempt to colonise the creative commons.

    It will fail.

    Elvis found his inspiration and many of his melodies in a common musical culture created by (ironically) generations of the poorest black American musicians. Creativity comes from many sources, but corporate profits are not one of them. This was true in the early part of the 20th century, where the sheet-music publishers tried to dominate the music industry (and failed). It is as true today.

    For every "major" work copyrighted and kept out of the cultural blender, a hundred unknown artists pour their talent into creating something new.

    Let them have their copyrights. It means young artists will have to search harder for their inspirations, but the results will be better for it.

  • Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jb.hl.com (782137) <joe AT joe-baldwin DOT net> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:15AM (#9729971) Homepage Journal
    "Bitch, piss, moan, we can't rape a dead man's music catalogue for cash and many dubious "Best of" albums, boo fucking hoo, I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy etc etc"

    Well, I got news for ya RIAA! EASY COME EASY GO [wikipedia.org], SHUT THE FUCK UP! This is LAW. You aren't allowed to profit by getting new laws in place which benefit you and nobody else! EVER! Especially not in countries which aren't corrupt like the US government! Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. If you want profit, you have to make it the old fashioned honest way: MAKING GOOD NEW MUSIC AND SELLING IT. Unfortunately, the RIAA are used to making profit and not earning it, because "they deserve it".

    Fuck that. I wish the US would break them up, considering they are an illegal cartel.
  • by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:41AM (#9730028) Homepage
    Even in Europe, the song itself is not in the public domain because Athur Crudup, its composer, died only as late as 1974. In most European countries, works of performing artists are only protected for 50 years, but for the actual lyrics and music, the clock starts running after the author's death (and runs for 50 or 70 years).

    That means that the European rules mainly cause classical music to enter the public domain at this point.
  • by grolaw (670747) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:43AM (#9730032) Journal
    The key defect of the Sony Bono copyright extension act is that it does not reward the creator of the work...it extends monopoly rights to the assignees of the work.

    The history of copyright is one long battle between the rights of the author and the rights of third-parties. The Sony Bono copyright extension act does nothing to reward or encourage the author...it removed many works from the public domain and established criminal sanctions for any fool who might use those works newly re-copywritten. Who pushed this law in the US? Disney. THE MOUSE almost went into the public domain and a company contemplated the demise of their core IP rights and promptly made certain THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

    The Sony Bono copyright extension act is only the most current power grab. It is the camel's nose under the tent of author's rights. Creator's be damned-let's reward the assignees. Mr. Michael Jackson funds his interests with the copyright royalties from the works of McCartney & Lennon. Not one dime of those royalties reward, support or encourage either of the two living Beatles. They fund Mr. Jackson's "Neverland" ranch and his defense attorneys. All you need is love? Or, is all you need are buckets of money to fund Mr. Jackson's peculiar concept of love? Any way you look at this it stinks on ice!

    You can be certain that well before the MOUSE or Jackson find their IP holdings in danger of falling into the public domain again that another extension will be enacted.

    Now is the time for a major nation to upset this unearned windfall for the lucky, but uncreative, assignees of author's works. Limit the rights of publishers, purchasers and offspring to profit from the (usually) under compensated creator's works!
  • by SalsaDot (772010) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:50AM (#9730051) Homepage
    Music has been entering the public domain there for years hasn't it?

    Oh yeah, this is Elvis we're talking about, heaven forbid his music ever be free.

    (wait till the Beatles' hits hit the wire...)

    Dont worry, in 50 years or so, some copyright will be repealed. No one will give a damn about protecting today's pop musical shite. But the old stuff will remain protected FOREVER AND EVER. :)
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:59AM (#9730067) Journal
    So if this happens, will the online music stores not pay any longer and make an extra profit?

    Apple currently gets a 13 cent cut off of each song and by the recent financial statement appears to make about 2.4 cents a song profit.

    Will Apple be able to collect the 55 cents that goes to the RIAA and the 32 cents the artists get?
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:01AM (#9730075)
    This disscusion, I guess, is rather old and pointless too, because it have been always the same..

    In 50-60ties there was sheet music industry (publishers). They were a middle man, actually they did NOTHING in creation of work of art, but they wanted EVERYTHING. Profits, everything. Musicians usually didn't wanted to take care of redistribution, publishing, so they given those rights to publishers.

    As anywhere, when bigger and bigger money appears in industry, middle man is always trying to gain more and more money, actually even don't caring that could turn lot of tallented people away from mainstream publishers and to try independent ones.

    So, question is, when there is REASONABLE to extend copyright? I would say - a little bit, BUT not 100 years, not 'forever'. However the greed of middle man aka big fat publishing companies are actually unstoppable, as they all are ...American.

    So, whatever. BUT one thing they don't know - that their actions actually shrinks their market. They looking for today's profits, don't care about tomorrow.
  • by spungo (729241) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:21AM (#9730115)
    Ugbog and Moon-Pixie Spears have contested the copyright expiration of the classic Earth music their late, departed genetic Mother* Britney produced in the dark half of the twenty-first century. Moon-Pixie has amassed a considerable thought-petition amongst the noble citizenry of the outer satellites of the Lewinsky-Shatner system. She has mind-beamed a long list of names to the central Solar executive, and is awaiting their synaptic consent. The music of the former Earth-President Britney has been studied extensively for the last 30 years by a range of conscious and super-conscious experts. They have all agreed that the sub-spiritual quality of her sonic poems, when combined with the post-Leno auto-referentialism that abounded at the time, make her work of particular historical importance. Moon-Pixie Spears is seeking to prevent the mass humming of Britney's work by neural-construction engineers that has been popular in the outer quadrants for decades, as this is an infringement of the original copyright provision. ( * Mother - an example of early 21st century outmoded genetic relationship nomenclature - it's common usage is all but illegal today. )
  • seems sketchy. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by asreal (177335) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:42AM (#9730158)
    what are the chances the big music companies would choose to showcase a tune that is about to go into the public domain by releasing a single for it putting it through the hype machine to push it up to #3? seems they wanted to have a clear case of a song that revenue will be lost on if copyright is not extended. am i just being too skeptical?
  • Uniformity? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:43AM (#9730159) Homepage
    So merely because the US has fucked up copyright laws, every other country has to follow suit for the sake of uniformity?!

    Oh yeah, that makes sense!

  • by roca (43122) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:24AM (#9730245) Homepage
    Recall that one key argument for the Sonny Bono copyright extension act was that it was needed to make the US consistent with Europe. Now the Europeans are saying they need to change their laws to be consistent with the US. It's beautiful --- they make "progress" by just leapfrogging each other.

    -- The EU makes compositions death of the author + 70 years, and records date of recording + 50 years
    -- The US becomes "consistent" by making all copyrights death of the author + 70 years
    -- The EU restores "consistency" by ... doing what? Who wants to bet that they extend copyrights just a little beyond the US in some area, so the US will then have to "catch up"?
  • by jesterzog (189797) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:32AM (#9730262) Homepage Journal

    I'm not in the UK or anywhere in the EU, but for those who are I'd like to point out that about now would be a very good time to bring to the attention of your politicians things like Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.net], which directly benefit from the expiry of copyright.

    Certainly part of the problem is that it's not always clear what possible benefits there could possibly be for ever letting works exit copyright. Gutenberg is an active project that's both becoming succesful, and demonstrates that people are out there trying to make an active effort to benefit from existing law.

    If politicians don't realise that people are benefiting from existing law, they'll have far less reason to consider not changing it when lobbied by the corporates. It's a bonus that Gutenberg can quite correctly claim that rather than ripping off other people's work, it's saving and making accessible a lot of valuable resources that most likely would simply have vanished otherwise.... and without a reasonable expiry of copyright this simply coldn't happen.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:57AM (#9730331) Homepage
    Looters.com

    European Copyright Clock Expired on Shakespeare Hits

    LONDON (Billhoard) - Over four hundred years after it was first released in the England, Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", "Macbeth", and other plays are still hits across the globe.

    Shakespeare's works have been printed by the tens of millions, with hundreds of theater groups preforming thousands of performances every year for untold millions of consumers. For the original author and publisher the celebration is long over.

    If there are no changes in European copyright law, the play will languish in public domain. Anyone will can release or even preform it without paying royalties to the authors performer's heirs. Publishers are losing a fat wads of cash all across Europe.

    As Shakespeare's works are being hailed by some as some of the greatest works in the English language, more and more works are falling into public domain.

    The Shakespeare case illustrates the importance of the issue for publishing companies in Europe. The lost profits are incalculable.

    WAKEUP CALL

    "I regard this week's anniversary as a wakeup call and a call to arms to step up a gear or two in our campaign to lobby for longer terms in the EU," said Jim E. Monet, executive chairman of Brutish Publishing Industry, in a recent speech.

    Cecil R. Logik added, "The lapse copyright on the explosion of British popular writings and music, not just the Shakespeare, but many other British artists, is is already happening. If nothing is done they will suffer loss of income not just for their sales in the U.K. but their sales across the globe."

    An increasing number of works will start falling into public domain in the coming years.

    Star Vin R. Tist is bass guitarist with the Retired, originally the backing group for Manny Dedd. Dedd's and the Retired's copyrights will start to expire when they hit the 50-year mark in 2009.

    "It's scary," Tist said during a 37-date sold-out tour of the United Kingdom. "I only became aware of the situation last year ... Our stuff is still selling, and there's about 250 various compilation albums out there worldwide. I'd like the period extended as soon as possible, and 600 years sounds good to me."

    Against this background, it is not surprising that the extension of the term of duration of copyrights is the publishing industry's main priority on the legislative agenda in Europe.

    The EU is reviewing its past directives on imaginary property, notably the EU Term of Protection scheme directive. With this in mind, trade body the Federation United of Artist Leeching Lawyers (FU-ALL) last year asked the European Commission for an extension of Term of Protection scheme for producers and artists with the goal of extending copyright beyond the international norms and doing so retroactively, as was done in the United States.

    The FU-ALL has started a campaign to raise awareness among policy manipulators and legislators on the issue. It targets EU member states, the EC and the Parliament.

    "We are using any opportunity we have to highlight the issue during meetings with the commission and MEPs," said Brussels-based FU-ALL senior propaganda executive Cammi Paine-Trubutor.

    Looters/Billhoard


    -
  • by Wells2k (107114) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:08AM (#9730353)
    This boil-up may or may not cause the UK to change their laws, at least for now. But what is going to happen when it comes time for the music of The Beatles to be affected by this? If these laws aren't changed now, this flap is just going to occur again then, and probably with a lot more fervor.

    Don't get me wrong here, I am for keeping the laws the way they are. I just see a lot more controversy looming in the future.
  • Great example ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:08AM (#9730354) Homepage
    I am an Indie film maker. most of my films have either indie music in them, after I secured both the song's and sync rights to it. But I also use a large amount od public domain music. A good example is a film that we are currently shooting. A period piece about irish in colonial america. we re-record many of those irish tunes with local artists who gladly give up their sync rights to the songs we ask them to play/record.

    So I guess I am one of those horrible and EVIL people that are using the music of these poor helpless and dead songwriters who's property is being mercilessly ripped from them by the tax collectors so I can subvert their music, image and make them horribly poor and make their families suffer.

    I am an Evil evil person.

    Maybe I should go to corperate jail.. anyone know whereI should turn myself in?
  • by yeremein (678037) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:21AM (#9730395)
    A content owner should just pay a fee and extend one copyright, rather than stealing infinity minus one works from the public domain.

    Don't get me wrong--I think the idea that content owners should be able to milk profits from decades-old work done by a deceased person is ludicrous. But it's not nearly as damaging to society and culture as a whole as keeping everything else out of the public domain just to satisfy a few copyright-holding freeloaders.

  • by Basje (26968) <bas@bloemsaat.org> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:24AM (#9730408) Homepage
    The copyright on sound recordings expires 50 years after publication. The copyright on the text, considered a work in itself, only expires 70 years after the death of the maker.

    So while a sound will expire, the song as recorded is a modification of the original text, and thus still protected. Samples of the song can be used freely, the whole song is still copyrighted.

  • by dunstan (97493) <{dvavasour} {at} {iee.org}> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:44AM (#9730487) Homepage
    The Proms this year is celebrating English music, and the crossroads it reached in 1934 - Elgar, Holst and Delius died in 1934, while Peter Maxwell Davis and Harrison Birtwhistle were born in 1934.

    It would be a great tribute to Elgar, Delius and Holst if, as their music comes out of copyright at the end of this year, their work was to truly enter teh public domain - the Mutopia project springs to mind.

    Sadly, it will be another 15 years before Vaughan WIlliams enters the public domain, as I want to use some of his sacred music, but the royalties quoted by the copyright holder are too much.

    Dunstan
  • by segfault_0 (181690) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @09:07AM (#9730615)
    Copyright, in my estimation has never been about the individual. The government doesnt write laws for individuals, it writes them for society at large. These laws were originally intended to make sure that authors kept creating content, not to make them rich. They were protecting society both from a lack of innovation and from losing their ability to build off of their cultural past. An idea the US govenment has obviously overlooked or given up upon. Maybe they dont want us to remember the past, like a Brave New World, consume, consume, consume...

    This isnt about protecting an authors ability to indefinitely maintain ownership, its about assuring authors that if they write something new for some period of time they will be protected in the name of promoting progress for the community. The U.K. has it right, 50 years is fair and this is not about protecting individuals.

  • by ClarkEvans (102211) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @10:56AM (#9731213) Homepage
    What's sadly missing is a discussion of the DAMAGE done to society since people cannot create derivitive works. Imagine for a minute if Walt Dizney could not make movies of Cinderella, Peter Pan, Scrooge, and other historicial fiction whose copyright has expired. Why is it that they can build on the works of others, but not allow others to build on their works? If they were _truly_ interested in defending copyright, they would find the descendents of these works and pay them the "outrageous" royalties that they would deserve. But WD doesn't do this, they waot all the way till Mouse is about to expire and _then_ lobby to extend copyright (otherwise, they'd have to pay back royalties on Fantasia's music).

  • After all, the US constitution calls for a limited monopoly, both in nature and duration, to promote the advancement of the arts and sciences... to encourage people to publish music.

    I think that Elvis got all the encourgement he neaded. I think the Beatles have been amply encouraged. I don't see any reason for the US law to remain in conflict with European law *and* the US constitution indefinitely.
  • by Dausha (546002) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @01:42PM (#9732127) Homepage
    Isn't copyright a means of seeking a balance between the creator's right to enjoy the fruits of his labor and society's ability to build upon that work?

    Compare copyright to patents. Why is a patent (in the US) limited to 20-odd years? Because society stands to benefit from the short terms of the patent. Many generic drugs (Ibuprophen, for example) are so commonly available because the patent expired. What if the patent terms were 90 years? How much more would we pay?

    [Perhaps we would not pay as much as we do for intra-patent drugs because the drug makers would have a longer timeline to recoop their investment?]

    Let's expand this discussion a bit wider. What if the Colt revolver enjoyed a 90 year patent instead of a 20 year patent? Why, Colt could rest on his laurels for the rest of his life while the rest of the century paid him a premium price for an innovative-but-flawed design. Or, the invention of the steam locomotive. What if that patent had prevented improvements on the design, and derivative developments? Or, the invention of the telegraph had been extended such that the telephone (voice-over-telegraph) wasn't invented until the early 20th Century? Would we even have an Internet today, or a Slashdot to *freely* exchanged these ideas?

    Patents and copyrights are a legalized monopoly to reward innovators. They are meant to be short-term because innovation feeds itself. Society is benefited by innovation. Overlong rights stifles innovation.

    I've read discussions of the economic benefit to be had by allowing BFPs (Big Publishers) have multi-generational copyrights. I'm a BFP, so my ability to create an industry off of generation's old creativity and then strangle any competition is a societal economic benefit? How long can I prevent somebody from reproducing stuffed rats?

    Or, in another realm. Look at the Gutenberg Project. They are hindered from digitizing over a generation of out-of-print works. Nobody is economically benefiting from the books being suppressed from the Public Domain. Society might be repressed from benefiting from the knowledge.

    I mean, if the GP is able to take a rare out-of-print book and make it available to the masses via their on-line archival, is this not benefiting society? What if I download an old book from their archival, and reading it spurs me to write the Great American Novel--spinning off a whole deluge of movies and mini-series, book tours, etc? As a member of society, isn't this an economic boon that is stifled by too-long copyrights?

    Wouldn't it be great if the USG bothered to fund the GP in such an effort?
    • Or, in another realm. Look at the Gutenberg Project. They are hindered from digitizing over a generation of out-of-print works. Nobody is economically benefiting from the books being suppressed from the Public Domain. Society might be repressed from benefiting from the knowledge.

      I know I'm belaboring the point. How many works could be irrevocably lost because the copyright was too long? If the work is lost, is this not akin to building a bonfire and hurling them in?

  • by shippo (166521) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @01:53PM (#9732204)
    The copyright law being mentioned here is the one regarding mechanical copyrights, i.e. the rights to a physical recording. These rights in the UK apply 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the recording was first issued, no matter where in the world that recording was first issued. In the case of a recording that has not been commercially issued, the mechanical copyright expires 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the recording was made.

    There are numerous record companies in Europe issuing compilations under these rules. For example last week I went looking for a Charlie Parker compilation, and I must have seen around 10 different such albums, all containing similar tracks, in one store alone. The packaging and annotation of these issues varied accordingly, from very shoddy (misspelt titles and no cover photograph) to a 40 page illustrated booklet with full session listings.

    There are a few labels with a reputation for making quality album, some even better that the label with the full rights to such recordings - labels such as JSP for Blues, Proper for Jazz, Blues and Country, and Naxos Historical for Classical. The original label, though, have the advantage as the alternate takes usually expire many years later, as their original year of issue was usually many years after the initial recording.

    I believe the law in Spain is slightly different, as there's a Spanish label called Definitive who have recently issued some recordings from 1954. These have appeared in some UK stores, even though their contents don't expire until the end of the year.

    The copyright rules regarding music publishing expire 50 years after the composer deaths, so the composers' estates will still be getting paid.

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

Working...