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U2, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend Call For New Copyright Law
December 30, 2006 5:15 PM   Subscribe

"U2, Kaiser Chiefs, Maximo Park and about 4,000 other bands have taken out a full page newspaper ad calling for the improvement of British copyright law. " wtf
posted by zouhair (81 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd be interested in knowing how many of those bands thought this ad was a good idea, and how many were forced to "sign" it by their record company.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:21 PM on December 30, 2006


Upon reading the article, that is certainly not the type of "improvement" I had expected...
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:23 PM on December 30, 2006


I'd be more interested in knowing how many of these bands had heard anything about this full stop.

And, obviously, extension != improvement.
posted by kaemaril at 5:24 PM on December 30, 2006


Hard to imagine Paul McCartney, Bono Vox, or the Edge being forced to sign anything.
posted by blucevalo at 5:24 PM on December 30, 2006


I got fed with Bono's bullshit and I'm a U2 fan
posted by zouhair at 5:25 PM on December 30, 2006 [3 favorites]


meant "Fed Up"
posted by zouhair at 5:25 PM on December 30, 2006


I think they've formed a new organization: The Society of Rock And Roll Artists Who Actually Might Live Into Their 70s.
posted by wendell at 5:27 PM on December 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


Right now the UK copyright limit is at 50 years, while the U.S. holds it at 95.

That's 95 plus life. In other words, your copyrights wont expire until a century after your death, when everyone's forgotten about them since no one bothered to try to get rights to works in the intervening years.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 PM on December 30, 2006


I thought this story sounded familiar. It happened on the 7th of December, and several of the artists involved are dead.

I know that McCartney has slipped since his days with the Beatles, but necromancy? That's just sick. I'd believe anything of Bono, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:29 PM on December 30, 2006


The BBC also has an article, which will no doubt be updated as famous names are found by the luckless intern tasked with trawling through the ad.

It seems unlikely that the extension from 50 to 95 years will actually happen, since the EU wants to harmonise on 50, and the recent Gowers report recommended against the extension.
posted by matthewr at 5:29 PM on December 30, 2006


If this law pass, I'll stop buying music and long live to music sharing (hubs, torrent, newsgroups,...)
posted by zouhair at 5:39 PM on December 30, 2006


the most amusing part of this is the fact that the Kaiser Chiefs, and Maximo Park (who- or what-ever that is) think that people will still be buying their music in 50 years.

That aside, this seems obviously correct and fair to me and it still boggles my mind why people get their panties in their bunch about this.

it's a weird weird chain of thought that leads you to "your song is yours fifty years but after that I can steal it or else there is no freedom in the world and I'm going to go home and weep for the children."
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:45 PM on December 30, 2006


um "their panties in such a bunch"
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:46 PM on December 30, 2006


@drjimmy

music, like science and other kind of art, is not potatoes or tomatoes, they should belong to the majority. It's fair to live of your science or art for some time but 100 year is just STUPID

How can art and science evolve if all is copyrigthed to death?
posted by zouhair at 5:58 PM on December 30, 2006


It's another weird weird chain of thought that leads to 'don't produce this approximate sequence of musical notes in public for the next 95 years or you'll be punished with the full force of the law' unless there is a very good reason for it.

And lots of people, including the guy commissioned by the UK Government with working it out, agree that there is no good reason. People are also irritated by the fact that whoever got this 'petition' together didn't even bother to find out whether the musicians who 'signed' it are still alive. Presumably it was assented to by their record labels, or by whoever is collecting royalties on their behalf without ever having done anything to deserve it.

And the ones who are 'getting their panties in such a bunch' about it at the moment are the record companies and their musicians. Because they are rent-seekers seeking rent, and it looks like they're not going to get as big a slice of the chocolate cake as they thought their lobbying money was going to buy.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:01 PM on December 30, 2006


Just to clarify, this is not about copyright on the music itself, only for specific recordings. So the original recording of "Hard Day's Night" will no longer be protected, but the song itself remains protected for 70yrs after the artist's death.
posted by johngumbo at 6:09 PM on December 30, 2006


Either way, it's just an attempt by record companies to solidify their hold over musicians -- strange that musicians would support such a law.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:18 PM on December 30, 2006


Haha, U2.

I must listen to this cutting edge voice of reason on the issue of copyright.
posted by fire&wings at 6:18 PM on December 30, 2006


Isn't Bono the Pope now?
posted by fleetmouse at 6:20 PM on December 30, 2006


it's a weird weird chain of thought that leads you to "your song is yours fifty years but after that I can steal it or else there is no freedom in the world and I'm going to go home and weep for the children."

Okay, how about we just get rid of copyright. How about saying "you're song is yours for 50 years after your death" we say "Your song is not yours ever." Not any less "moral" or "ethical" and it entirely gets rid of that pesky inconsistency.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 PM on December 30, 2006


That's the letter 2 and the numeral U... and these guys are from England and who gives a shit?
posted by loquacious at 6:30 PM on December 30, 2006 [3 favorites]


@loquacious if you're in the US you are already fucked up, 95 years of stupidity
posted by zouhair at 6:35 PM on December 30, 2006


So why is it that copyrights are so protected, while patents expire after such a (relatively) short period of time? Is a cure for cancer less valuable than a song?
posted by mullingitover at 6:39 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Spider Robinson's thoughts on copyright extension.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:10 PM on December 30, 2006


How can art and science evolve if all is copyrigthed to death?
Let's hypothesize that U2 and its members heirs will get perpetual copyright -- complete and everlasting -- over its songs.

Can you explain to me how that will stop music from evolving?

I just don't see the reasoning behind this line of argument. It seems -- no offense -- patently absurd.
posted by Flunkie at 7:16 PM on December 30, 2006


So why is it that copyrights are so protected, while patents expire after such a (relatively) short period of time? Is a cure for cancer less valuable than a song?
I suspect that "why are they" is a question that doesn't have a very good factual answer. However, the related question, "why would anyone think that they should be", can be answered:

For exactly the opposite reason of what you state: Because a cure for cancer is more valuable to a song.

Generally speaking, a technological advancement is immensely more valuable to society as a whole than any particular song.

So society has a much greater vested interest in short-length patents than it does in short-length copyrights.
posted by Flunkie at 7:21 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


the way things are going they'll be damned lucky if the governments last 50 to 95 years, never mind the copyrights
posted by pyramid termite at 7:29 PM on December 30, 2006


Let's hypothesize that U2 and its members heirs will get perpetual copyright -- complete and everlasting -- over its songs.

Can you explain to me how that will stop music from evolving?


For starters, the rights to the songs are for sale. There are currently groups that buy up the rights to songs from artists and then spend all their time suing for copyright.

There's one guy/group that's famous for that in hip-hop, but I don't remember the details off the top of my head. For England, the prime case is the guy who owns the output of the Rolling Stones - 1970 and before, I think. He successfully sued Richard Ashcroft for using a 12-note orchestral sample from an old Rolling Stones song; he now owns the rights to "Bittersweet Symphony". Ashcroft and the Verve never say one cent for that piece.

I'll let everyone else continue.
posted by suckerpunch at 7:37 PM on December 30, 2006


That should be 'never SAW one cent', obviously, not 'never SAY one cent'.

Also, loquacious, I want a goddamn CONCERTED effort to come out of a record that isn’t a FUCKING UPTEMPO record every time I do a goddamn DEATH dedication! I want SOMEBODY to use his FUCKING BRAIN...
posted by suckerpunch at 7:40 PM on December 30, 2006


I just don't see the reasoning behind this line of argument. It seems -- no offense -- patently absurd.

Okay how about this then; How can society have any kind of common history and culture if everything is copyrighted to death?

What if copyright, as it exists in this petition, had existed in Shakespear's time...do you really think his works would have the penetration and importance they do today if everyone who ever performed them or reproduced them over the last half a milennium had to track down Shakespear's great-great-great-great-granddaughter to ask her permission?

Where would we be if young violinists had to pay Mozart's great-great-great-great-grandson royalties for playing Eine kleine Nachtmusik?

It's fucking ridiculous. Kids can benefit off their parent's creativity. And they currently do, not least in the money the original artists have earned in their lifetimes to pass along. But pushing it further than that, down the generations, is a stupid idea.
posted by Jimbob at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2006


The Disney lobby isn't so strong in the UK.
posted by caddis at 7:46 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Can you explain to me how that will stop music from evolving?
For starters, (...)
Some guy suing the Verve stopped music from evolving how?

I'm not defending practices such as you describe. But they don't stop music from evolving, which was the original claim.
posted by Flunkie at 7:46 PM on December 30, 2006


I would like something like :

you can have the copyright for sometimes ('till your death or maybe some more years) but if you gain a certain amount of money from it, the copyright is dropped, even if it's just 1 year creation.
posted by zouhair at 7:47 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


you can have the copyright for sometimes ('till your death or maybe some more years) but if you gain a certain amount of money from it, the copyright is dropped, even if it's just 1 year creation.
The government shouldn't be involved in deciding the amount of money that an artist can make.
posted by Flunkie at 7:51 PM on December 30, 2006


Thieving bastards! Whatever the eights and wrongs of the copyright issue, laws should not be changed retrospectively. The performance copyright term was 50 years when these artists made their recordings. Why should they get more pay when they are not putting in any more work?

Put another way, why is Bono more important than those people who make money by selling compilations of copyright-expired recordings?
posted by mr. strange at 7:52 PM on December 30, 2006


Maybe they shouldn't be involved in protecting artists' "rights" then either, Flunkie.

If you want to protect your copyright, better get a rifle.
posted by Jimbob at 7:53 PM on December 30, 2006


Oops. "rights and wrongs" of course.
posted by mr. strange at 7:54 PM on December 30, 2006


Just to clarify, this is not about copyright on the music itself, only for specific recordings. So the original recording of "Hard Day's Night" will no longer be protected, but the song itself remains protected for 70yrs after the artist's death.

Just to clarify this ;-)

Songs, as such, can't be copyrighted. Copyright exists in the lyrics of the song, and in the music of the song, separately. So that's still going to be copyrighted for life+70 (just like a novel would be copyrighted for life+70). That is, the life of the composer of the song. Lennon's Beatles tunes are going to be out of copyright in 2050, and you'd then be able to publish the lyrics without permission, record your own cover version without paying royalties to whoever owns the copyright now, etc.

Sound recordings, including musical ones, are copyrighted for 50 years from date of publication. These artists are proposing to extend this to 95 years from date of publication. As it is, the early rock and roll recordings are starting to come out of copyright - meaning, as I understand it, that anyone could duplicate and distribute them legally.

(Could someone clarify this - would it only apply to the original records, e.g. the original 1956 pressing; or whether it would also apply to a CD version of a 1956 record, issued in the 1980s or 1990s?).
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:00 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you want to protect your copyright, better get a rifle.
Let's back up here a moment. You've claimed that:
  1. Copyright laws stop music from evolving.
  2. In their place, artists should simply arm themselves and defend their perceived rights at gunpoint.
The dichotomy between the two is stupendous.

I mean, seriously. Let's say you're a musician. You've written a new song. Which of the following will make you less likely to release it to the public?
  1. You have control over the financial and distributive rights to your creation, enforced for you by the government.
  2. If you want control over the financial and distributive rights to your creation, you better get a gun.
Honestly. Which one makes you more likely to think, "Hmmm, maybe it's not worth it"? And therefore is more likely to have a negative impact upon the collective evolution of society's music?

So you don't like long-term copyright. I get it. And I don't necessarily disagree - for example, I think that the proposal of U2, McCartney, et al is ridiculous. But you're making some pretty strong claims here, intended in support of our shared opinion, and I just don't see how those claims are at all reasonable.
posted by Flunkie at 8:10 PM on December 30, 2006


1. Copyright laws stop music from evolving.
2. In their place, artists should simply arm themselves and defend their perceived rights at gunpoint.

The dichotomy between the two is stupendous.


unless you're ted nugent
posted by pyramid termite at 8:14 PM on December 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


Well you made the outlandish claim that governments have no right to determine how much artists earn.

How do you figure that?

Governments determine the minimum wage.

They determine how much tax we pay depending on how much we earn and where we spend our money.

If a government is making laws to protest the "copyright owners", they have to do so in the context of also protecting what is best for society as a whole. Striking a balance, not just saying the artists is all powerful and in three generations time John Lennon's distant progeny are still getting money if someone decides to cover Strawberry Fields.

And the current system is a balance; indeed one might argue it's already skewed in favour of the copyright owner, and doesn't need to be pushed further in that direction, to the detriment of our shared culture and history.
posted by Jimbob at 8:16 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also, I was making claims about our cultural history, not the evolution of music. I think you've confused me with someone else.
posted by Jimbob at 8:18 PM on December 30, 2006


The government shouldn't be involved in deciding the amount of money that an artist can make.

Okay, so you you support the end of government supported copyright? Quite radical.

The only reason copyright exists is the government. No government, no copyright. So it's entirely within the governments domain to decide how much money they should make.
posted by delmoi at 8:42 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


See what happens when you devolve to insulting someone's language skills? Even I screwed up. It's like a fundamental law of the cosmos or something.
posted by loquacious at 8:52 PM on December 30, 2006


Flunkie - let me continue my argument here, first, by clarifying my personal position that the current state of copyright law will enforce the dichotomy of a strong corporate backing with a small underground (and thus severely slowing evolution of music). Here's why :

The previous example with the Verve showed the courts overriding the principle of fair use. Overriding fair use is what would allow people like the previous plaintiff, like Bridgeport Music (a one-man outfit currently suing Jay-Z) to attempt lawsuits against many musicians in the business.* According to a Bridgeport victory - Bridgeport Music vs. Dimension films - any sampling, no matter how minimal or undetectable, is a copyright infringement.

Currently, anyone who experiences any success canimmediately be attacked in court by rightsholders. These groups and one-man companies won't sue anyone who doesn't make money; musicians working for large corporations can be protected by corporate money. But the entire middle - musicians making a decent-to-good living - can be scared off simply by the threat of a lawsuit.

Why attempt to make music if someone is going to take it apart and claim that your snare drum sound - that heavy dead-wrist thunk that your drummer got from Ringo - was too much like an artist on their list (who also probably copied Ringo)? That your shredding guitar solo sounds too close to a Slash homage (because it is a Slash homage) and the dude who owns "November Rain" wants some dough? Right now, if they do, you can probably still win in court... if you're prepared to go through the pain and paperwork. But they can still bring the lawsuit. And they want you to get scared and settle out of court.

Bridgeport Music has launched over 500 cases since 2001. They rely mostly on their ownership of George Clinton's music, which is still disputed, I think. What I mentioned above is their strategy. They don't expect to win; they want you to settle out of court. That is enough to pay for the lawyer fees and give all of Bridgeport Music - one man - a very comfortable lifestyle.

Ask yourself this - under the current definition of sampling and fair use, what happens to T.S. Eliot? Could the owner of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde sue for the rights to The Waste Land? If someone buys the publishing rights to e e cummings, they could sue you for having a broken shift key.

Of course, that sounds ludicrous, and it wouldn't happen, but that's because fair use in letters has more protection than fair use in notes.

This is tiring; I'll think I'll stop here.




* Bridgeport would have far more money had their lawsuit against Public Enemy worked; it failed (so I'm told - pending research) only due to Bridgeport's sleaziness in getting the rights to George Clinton's music, which Public Enemy sampled. As it is, that lawsuit led to the current setup where you must still pay for the song rights for a sample even if you have re-recorded it. If you use the sample as it is on record, you must pay two fees.
posted by suckerpunch at 9:04 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


What's your dog in this fight, Flunkie?
posted by blasdelf at 9:07 PM on December 30, 2006


go sonny, it's ya birfday..
posted by phaedon at 9:15 PM on December 30, 2006


Would be nice to make copyrights for medical clinical examinations
posted by zouhair at 9:17 PM on December 30, 2006


i love posts like this. you're all wrong.
posted by phaedon at 9:20 PM on December 30, 2006


As far as I can tell, everyone currently yelling on this thread agrees with each other but can't resist tearing apart each other's poorly expressed hypotheticals. What a bunch of fucking idiots.
posted by cillit bang at 9:23 PM on December 30, 2006


some background info on bridgeport vs. dimension, for those interested:

In this case the rap group NWA sampled a single chord from George Clinton’s “Get Off Your Ass and Jam,” altered the pitch and tempo, and used it in their song “100 Miles and Runnin’.” The owners of the sound recording copyright to Clinton’s song sued Dimension Films for infringement after the song was included in the soundtrack to the Dimension movie “I Got the Hookup.”
The district court held that the amount copied from “Get Off” was so small that it was not legally cognizable, or in other words, the use was de minimis. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, announcing a new rule that made the sampling of a copyright protected sound recording a per se infringement regardless of the amount copied. The hip-hop industry is worried that this decision will negatively impact creativity by significantly limiting the amount of music that artists can legally sample.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court opinion and announced the new bright-line rule based upon its interpretation of the Copyright Act of 1976. Although the academic and business publications on the subject offer support for both the court of appeals opinion and the district court opinion, the Sixth Circuit‘s interpretation is not supported by any judicial precedent and is contrary to the existing persuasive decisions from other districts.

posted by phaedon at 9:31 PM on December 30, 2006


I wonder what would happen if this sample was using extensively copyright http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac
posted by zouhair at 9:36 PM on December 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


Hmmm, PJ Harvey signed it too (along with, what, 4000 others?), not just the massively rich and famous McCartney and Bono that so many folks have name-dropped in this thread. I'd love to read the actual ad text: I don't suppose anyone knows if it's anywhere on the web?

There are some other articles on this, and though they all say essentially the same thing, each one offers a detail or two not found in the one link posted in the FPP. Check 'em here and here. Also, A Thousand Baited Hooks linked to Lawrence Lessig's blog for a related entry, but here's another from the same blog.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:39 PM on December 30, 2006


the actual ad
posted by phaedon at 9:45 PM on December 30, 2006


fucking great vid, zouhair
posted by phaedon at 9:57 PM on December 30, 2006


Governments should outlaw recording altogether. We must allow no record of the past, unto perpetuity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:02 PM on December 30, 2006


Flunkie: copyright is not inherent. It's a creation of statute law, enforced by governments, and with a relatively short history. Within a century of the first copyright law, publishers sought perpetual copyright and lost. The US constitution's "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" reflects that judgement -- even though the US chose not to respect British copyrights throughout the 19th century.

Anyway, what we're discussing here is mechanical copyright, which exists for two reasons: because performances can be recorded, and because governments act to prevent unauthorised reproduction, duplication etc.

In the days before the phonograph, performers had to show up and sing to get paid; now, it's apparently not good enough for a performer to get fifty years' worth of royalties out of a single performance.

What does that mean? Look at this page of wax cylinder recordings from the early 1900s. Half of them are less than 95 years old.

This is late, though, because Gowers wasn't having any of it: the section in his report on the relative benefits of extension versus the public domain is worth a look.
posted by holgate at 10:03 PM on December 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


actually, copyright is inherent, although admittedly in the qualified sense that according to law, copyright is inherent - the moment an idea is written down in a "fixed and tangible" medium.
posted by phaedon at 10:19 PM on December 30, 2006


(Could someone clarify this - would it only apply to the original records, e.g. the original 1956 pressing; or whether it would also apply to a CD version of a 1956 record, issued in the 1980s or 1990s?).

somebody in 1990 that is pressing say, a compilation of original songs copyrighted in 1956 would not be in effect "re-copyrighting" the music. in fact, he/she would be paying a mechanical license that would legally allow them to reproduce and distribute each original recording. therefore, the copyright term starts and will forever be considered as starting in 1956.
posted by phaedon at 10:33 PM on December 30, 2006


Thanks Phaedon. So in other words, IF I have a CD of (say) Elvis's 1956 recordings, it's out of copyright, and I could burn it for my friends and not be breaking the law?

flapjax at midnite: Hmmm, PJ Harvey signed it too (along with, what, 4000 others?), not just the massively rich and famous McCartney and Bono that so many folks have name-dropped in this thread.

Some of the artists who signed the ad are dead, which makes me suspect that some of those living artists who supposedly signed it did not in fact do so. I could be wrong, though.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:21 PM on December 30, 2006


posted by Infinite Jest: Some of the artists who signed the ad are dead, which makes me suspect that some of those living artists who supposedly signed it did not in fact do so.


Yeah, according to the Lessig blog cited above, there are two dead signatories. I'd be a bit surprised if any of the living signatories' names were just tacked on without their consent/approval, though there may in fact be a few out of 4000 plus signers. I'd imagine, though, that if, say, PJ Harvey's name had appeared on the list without her approval, we'd be hearing about it. She's one tough cookie!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:12 AM on December 31, 2006


Can you explain to me how that will stop music from evolving?

I can't speak to the UK, as I don't have enough familiarity with the specifics of UK copyright law. However, on this side of the pond...

The rationale behind copyrights and patents is a simple trade: in return for making your new creation available to the rest of us (a benefit for society) you are granted a temporary privilege to control and profit from it (a benefit for you). The expiration is grounded in the notion that the end goal is to have the work available to everyone.

Longer and longer extensions of copyright are of debatable utility in serving this rationale, but retroactive extensions of the sort being lobbied for here have two easily-demonstrated flaws:

1. They cannot possibly serve the purpose of providing an incentive to create new work; retroactively extending copyright will not cause new works to have been retroactively created in the past.

2. At worst, they work against the purpose of copyright, because rather than providing an incentive to continue creating new work, they provide a strong incentive for complacency: once you have created something, continuing retroactive extensions allow you to perpetually milk it for royalties rather than do anything new.

And this complacency creates a self-perpetuating cycle; once you are in possession of the rights to a commercially valuable work, using some of your profits from it to lobby for copyright extensions is more cost-effective (and more likely to succeed) than using that money to fund creation of new work (which involves higher risk; copyright extensions pass most of the time, but most new creative work is not commercially valuable enough to justify its development cost). Thus you sink some money into lobbying, get an extension, make more money, sink some into lobbying, get another extension, and so on ad infinitum.

The United States is seeing this already; it's the furthest thing from coincidence that strong lobbying for copyright extension steps up each time the current term of copyright for the oldest Disney material approaches expiration, for example. And much of the "new" work coming out of Disney is not truly new, but merely derivatives (sequels and adaptations) of existing properties.

Additionally, from a purely creative standpoint, perpetual or effectively-perpetual (because of continual retroactive extensions) copyright creates a net harm on the ability to create new work, because so much of creative work is at least partially derivative or based on existing work. To again take Disney as an example: the company likely would never have gotten off the ground if they'd had to pay royalties to the authors of the fairy tales and other stories they adapted into film.

And even now, when Disney is a gigantic company with vast financial resources, this is a deterrent; Disney felt that having to pay royalties to J.M. Barrie's assignees was sufficient disincentive to pull out of a new film adaptation of Peter Pan a few years ago. Getting back to your original question, take note of the fact that, in the UK, Peter Pan is, by special act of Parliament, under perpetual copyright -- Barrie assigned the rights to a children's hospital, and the cause was felt worthy of special protection.
posted by ubernostrum at 12:19 AM on December 31, 2006 [3 favorites]


in the UK, Peter Pan is, by special act of Parliament, under perpetual copyright

Wow, that's really interesting. I wonder if there are any similar cases, anywhere else in the world. Also opens an interesting question: might an artist be able to successfully lobby his/her government for such a "copyright in perpetuity" on his/her work if the proceeds are designated for some charity or other?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:37 AM on December 31, 2006


Can you explain to me how that will stop music from evolving?

Before the law stuck its dick into music: Paul's Boutique

After the law stuck its dick into music: Hello Nasty
posted by tsarfan at 1:36 AM on December 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's really interesting. I wonder if there are any similar cases, anywhere else in the world. Also opens an interesting question: might an artist be able to successfully lobby his/her government for such a "copyright in perpetuity" on his/her work if the proceeds are designated for some charity or other?

Not in the US, as that would be a bill of attainder.
posted by delmoi at 1:57 AM on December 31, 2006


Amen, tsarfan.
posted by basicchannel at 2:35 AM on December 31, 2006


Or should I say: Amen, my brother.
posted by basicchannel at 2:35 AM on December 31, 2006


Greedy old bastards.

As a writer (published several books) I think it's fair to be granted some kind of protection for a 'normal' lifespan - and then your stuff should be free for society to use (or forget).

So most people start their creative / commercial in their early twenties. So with a copyright protection of 50 years your royalties would stop around age 70+ ... that's long enough for me.

I despise that greed - especially from such high rollers like Paul & Bono. Aren't they rich enough already?
posted by homodigitalis at 2:56 AM on December 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


I can understand musicians fighting like SOBs for resources and appreciation, I'm one.....

Irving Berlin died in 1989, so you can't perform 'God Bless America' without recompense until 2084. If you're sitting in a bar on the 4th of July, and the bartender fires up his hooked-into-the-system-iPod playing it, it's an insult for the lawyers to wrestle over.

Berlin wrote thousands of songs. Whatever diddy you just wrote, you loser, is a cop of Irving, and it'll only take a few years or decades and enough attorneys to prove it.

This is bullying egotism.
posted by toma at 3:06 AM on December 31, 2006


From Lessig's blog post linked above by flapjax -

"Oh jeez. Poor Paul, you may think. Robbed in his old age."

Ouch, missed a chance for a very predictable joke there...
posted by pleeker at 3:34 AM on December 31, 2006


Sorry if I missed this, but is there a full list somewhere?

I do feel for the session musicians though, they get paid crap. That's no reason to get so greedy about extending copyright but still they do have a better case than Sir Paul & co.
posted by pleeker at 3:42 AM on December 31, 2006


The grandchildren of the underpant gnomes thank you.
posted by srboisvert at 3:57 AM on December 31, 2006


Wow, any musicians who signed up to this ad voluntarily are completely arrogant wankers. The only people who could possibly benefit from this are are people who produce recording which are still popular enough after 50 years to warrant protection. But anyone who derives benefit from a recording that is popular for 50 years is going to be stinking fucking rich anyway. So they're just saying that if they do happen to get stinking rich, they want to make sure they get a bit richer still. Fucking obnoxious bastards. I've never understood that about rich people, even after they're richer than 99.9% of the world, it still isn't enough, they can never relax and think, I've made enough money, they still desire the accumulation of additional money even though it can't possibly make a practical difference to them. Sounds like some kind of mental illness.
posted by mokey at 4:12 AM on December 31, 2006


It's a contorted class-list of slightly successful music writers polluted by the Kaiser Sozes of FM.
posted by toma at 4:27 AM on December 31, 2006


Barrie assigned the rights to a children's hospital, and the cause was felt worthy of special protection.

That's a potential loophole ! It is not assigned to childrens, but to the _hospital_, another "charitable" organization that may as well decide in the future that giving children a little more than surviving necessity is "humane" enough while the rest is spent into "administrative costs". Who's going to raise question against the lovable charitable org, you selfish bastards ? You should be ASHAMED !

I can already foresee the armies of sociopaths hiding behind such charitable ventures if a concept such as "perpetual copyright favournig the poor" should become common practice.
posted by elpapacito at 4:41 AM on December 31, 2006


woohoo! last day of 2006!

Thanks Phaedon. So in other words, IF I have a CD of (say) Elvis's 1956 recordings, it's out of copyright, and I could burn it for my friends and not be breaking the law?

ok. technically if you own the copyright of a musical composition or recording, the law will provide you with an 'exclusive bundle of rights' - the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and the right to create derivative works. now, interestingly enough, once a composition has been commercially recorded and distributed for the first time by the original songwriter, and then you wish to record and distribute that composition yourself (and you are not the original songwriter), you can obtain a compulsory mechanical license (by compulsory i mean, according to law). but there is a fixed rate you are required to pay the original songwriter, and there are companies that have traditionally handled these kinds of transactions (like harry fox agency).
notice i said "distribute that composition" and not "distribute that song". a compulsory mechanical license will only cover the "composition" - the "notes on the paper" element of the song - and not the "entire" song, which as stated in a post above, would include the actual use of a master - in other words, the actual sound recording.
to boil it down: currently, an album of beatles covers requires only a comp. mechanical license. cover eleanor rigby, and you pay roughly 9.1 cents per album sold to the original writer. BUT... try to sell a compilation of original beatles songs with their original recordings, and on top of the the mech. license, technically the owner of the master can set his/her own price for use of the original sound recordings...

up until the copyright expires. then the work is considered "public domain", and you could burn the music for your friends without breaking the law. its an interesting question though, what happens next. i mean, right now we live in a world where all popular music is copyrighted - hell, even the birthday song has a copyright that's still in effect. this is why you rarely see more than a few notes of this song used on television or in film.

anyway, to make a small story short here. i hope nobody's underestimating the important of the publishing side of the music business. back catalogues right now are pretty much the only thing keeping labels in business. so im not surprised to see uk artists, who historically have been fucked in the ass by british tax law, to ask for more rights - and by "more rights" it is implied they want "fair treatment" like they would receive in the united states. and, to boot, things like the "cost of a mechanical license" and the "term of copyright", since the begiinning, have naturally expanded, for whatever reason, as time has passed.

in my opinion, if there is money to be made off owning a copyright - that is, if anybody should be making that money, its the original copyright owner. while that copyright can and usually is transferred to different people during its term, the notion that law dictates that it should "expire" at any point (particularly when it comes to some as inane as music) is kind of retarded. but in any case, the current state of things is less the result of coherent logic, and more so a function of a multi billion industry trying to protect its interests.
posted by phaedon at 7:05 AM on December 31, 2006


One advantage of the expiring copyright that I haven't heard mentioned in this thread is that there are often recordings the record labels that own the rights to have no interest in rereleasing that will be put back out there when the copyright expires.
posted by drezdn at 8:03 AM on December 31, 2006


i would not be surprised if record label drones signed up to metafilter just to show some "grass roots" (astroturf) support for copyright extensions. here's an upraised middle finger to them.
posted by bruce at 9:21 AM on December 31, 2006


I do feel for the session musicians though, they get paid crap.

Session musicians rarely get a royalty. They usually get a one-off fee (perhaps with some residuals) and sign away any claim on the mechanical rights.
posted by holgate at 9:58 AM on December 31, 2006


In fact the copyright on the actual sound recordings and the copyright on the song are two different issues and have been conflated several times so far.

The published music lives on after you die, copyright-wise.

People like Cliff Richard, currently Britain's most vocal proponent of a copyright extension on the actual sound recordings, have a more pressing interest. In the UK, where there's a hard limit of 50 years on the protection of sound recordings, Cliff's first single goes out of copyright entirely in 21 months' time.

This means that whoever wrote 'Move It' (publishing right and I seriously cannot believe that I just pulled that song title out of memory) will still get paid if I decide to re-release the record after that point, but Cliff (performance right) gets nothing. Or, if we're phrasing that correctly - the publishers get paid but the record company's SOL.

One example of record companies' attempts at de facto extending copyright is known as "digitally remastered!!!". Their current thought process is that if they partially-rerecord, or change the mix, or in some other way noticeably alter the original recording, then the new recording can have its clock reset.

This hasn't been tested in court as far as I know. But in the meantime you'll have noticed that once a remastered recording has been released, you'll probably not be able to find an unremastered recording anywhere. There's a faint risk you'd release it on its 50-year day so it's safer all round if you don't get the chance.

Notice also that they've been doing this since 1985.
posted by genghis at 10:16 AM on December 31, 2006


I wonder if there are any similar cases, anywhere else in the world.

Not that I'm aware of; also note that the Peter Pan copyright is really only conditionally perpetual; it lasts only so long as the rights remain with the hospital.

Not in the US, as that would be a bill of attainder.

No, I don't think it would be a bill of attainder because it's not being used for punishment of a particular person. But the copyright clause of the Constitution, with its "limited times" wording, would come into play and it'd be struck down anyway.
posted by ubernostrum at 4:36 PM on January 1, 2007


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