Monday, July 19, 2004

That's all (copy)right

I can't quite believe that they are panicking...

According to Reuters and Billboard the copyright on Elvis is due to expire. It appears that in Europe the copyright on a recording, (due to the large number of people involved) rises to the public domain fifty years after its initial release. "That's All Right" gets raised on January 1, 2005.

"That's All Right" by Elvis, currently a hit in the UK (according to the article) is being hailed by some as the beginning of rock 'n' roll, the implications are that every year after 2005, more recordings that defined the genre will rise in to public domain.

In the US, thanks to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (a.k.a. the Mickey Mouse act, guess who was about to go in to public domain), sound recordings are protected for 95 years from the day of recording in the United States -- for post-1976 recordings, coverage is the artist's life plus 70 years.

The big, and powerful, music companies are running scared. Lobbying in the EU, due to it's fractured nature, is not as easy as lobbying in the US. I guess in US politics there are usually two sides. In Ireland we are used to at least five parties all playing for power. In the EU, the factions are barely held together at the best of times...

The laws haven't been changed, which means that recordings from 1954 back are now in the public domain.

Guys... times will not stay still. If your profits are dependant on a fifty years old release, then you haven't been doing your job properly, and you deserve the cuts in profits. You should be out there nurturing talent to give you 40 years worth of profits, not just a quick buck for the end of the year!

Copyright on the song, remains in place. That, like book publishing remains for the life of the author plus 70 years. Which means that, the law remaining unchanged, anyone doing a cover of "That's All Right" will have to pay royalties, however, anyone sampling the 1955 recording, won't have to? Surely they would have to pay the song owners. (The rights to the recording lapse, not the song). That's why the classic "Happy Birthday" song still generates cash for some people every time its used in a movie.

Dickens. Shakespeare. Homer. All of these are out of copyright, because, well because time moved on and huge companies were not dependant on them. If music didn't eventually make it's way in to the public then things simply can not be improved upon. Failure for improvement due to legal restrictions is, well, it's painful. I suspect that if big business had it's way, Aspirin would cost €10 a pill.

I'm beginning to rant. It's not as if I don't generate "content" myself.
I need to cool off ('cause I can see the pained expressions on the telly tonight).


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