19/4/2011 2:14 pm  #1

Copyrights - European Union extension of protection to 70 years

I've been sent an email by someone campaigning against changes in legislation that will extend the copyright on recordings to 70 years across Europe (from the current 50 in the UK).  This same message also appears on another website.

His message says in part -
'-  - - you will already know there is a real danger that the flawed amended 2009 bill to extend European Recording Copyright from 50 to 70 years will be passed by the European Parliament in the next couple of months without further debate.

The background to this can be found here:


The explanation of why there won't be further debate (and how we might do something about it) is a little way down the page under the heading "How will writing to my MEP help"

There are links for both UK and European readers to automatically send e-mails to their MEPs. Note that what is being asked of them is to vote for "Renewed Referral" which would result in the matter being discussed again by the whole parliament rather than just being voted on by the Council Of Ministers and thus greatly increasing the chances of the whole thing being amended to something less draconian or, better still, abandoned altogether.'

The link provides much additional background, but is a statement against the change. My searches of the internet have failed to find any equivalent putting the other side of the argument.

For a number of years some record manufacturers in Europe, including the UK, have issued CDs of material outside the 50 year protection, much of which has been of good quality, and some of which would almost certainly not have been kept before the public in any other way. These issues have also been reaching the US, where the protection is much longer (and in some cases indefinite).

I can see both sides of the argument -
1 - Why should the originators of the material be deprived of reward for their efforts? After all people are living longer. Some of the artists remain alive for much more than the 50 years and the direct close relatives and dependants of the artists are still living in many other instances.

2 - If the owners of the copyrighted material have not themselves been successful for some reason in keeping the material available, how should it be accessed by all those who might be interested in it? - and should others be prevented from stepping in to fulfil the demand?

3 - If the owners of recordings cannot be traced there will be every disincentive to issuers to fill the void, for fear of the owners then emerging from the woodwork with penal demands.  This is a fear expressed not long ago in relation to recordings by a number of jazz luminaries by The New York Times in an article advocating rationalisation (and shortening) of the rights in America.

Great works or art find their way to museums and art galleries and might be seen via reproductions.  Books might not remain in publication but can usually be accessed through libraries.  I personally have no objection to the extension provided that it does not cut off accessibility to the sound recordings of the past.  Ideally I would hope that it might be possible to maintain access to all recordings of the past, (quite possible via the internet),  with some form of open licensing that meets all needs.


21/4/2011 6:05 pm  #2

Re: Copyrights - European Union extension of protection to 70 years

I do see the point - I heard someone once say (I can't remember who) that if Copyrights went on indefinitely, Shakespeare (or presumably, relatives) would still be collecting royalties - Most feel Royalties should run to an end at some point - Otherwise, it goes on forever - Whereas, a wealthy individual passing on his stocks and holdings - That sort of thing can be handled contractually, by private parties - so that can be indefinite - But, I can't think of a good argument against re-copyrighting indefinitely - Except the one made by Richard - Which implies that copyright holders such as, MCA have copyrights (I'm thinking of BING) and, don't make enough of the material available to the public - And, for whatever argument, or political reasoning don't release music that people want, and would sell -


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