Sunday, December 04, 2005

THE FUTURE OF COPYRIGHTS

Almost unnoticed, slipping out into the night, comes mention that Gordon Brown has got former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers onboard to carry out a review of Intellectual Property rights. This is part of fulfilling Labour's manifesto pledge "modernise copyright and other forms of intellectual property so that they are appropriate for the digital age".

Without wanting to suggest that this sounds like a good time for the so-called Creative Industries to pop over to their local Labour headquarters with the chequebook out, we can't help feeling this sounds like an opportunity for our rights as cultural-supporting citizens to be eroded still further and our position as consumer-spending subjects of the record labels and Hollywood to be further enshrined.

Ominously:

The Government has previously committed to examining whether the current term of copyright protection on sound recordings and performers’ rights is appropriate. This will also be conducted within the review.

This is the bit the record industry has been lobbying for, to stop sound recordings entering public domain after fifty years. If it was up to us, the question here would be "is there any reason to suggest that a corporation which has been unable to recoup its investment in making a recording over the course of fifty years would be able to do so given another twenty?", but we suspect instead Gowers will be asking "how many years extra, Mr. EMI?"


4 comments:

eyetie said...

I'm behind Gordon on this one. I plan to be around in 30 years time and I would rather not hear a gluttony of 80s music being released ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Imagine the entire Madonna back catalogue being released, one single a week, while Jacko, NKOTB, ABC, Duran Duran and Adam Ant clog up the remainder of the top 10.

Like the Yanks, 100 years should be the minimum but 75% of all profits after Year 50 should go to RNID or other suitable charities.

karl said...

It's kind of funny that the big record companies have only just noticed their snouts scraping the bottom of the trough. An apparent lack of interest in developing interesting artists and a reliance on pumping out karaoke bilge means that they're having to rely on back catalogues for revenue. Soon, all that will be out of copyright... Maybe the big companies could scrape together some cash by ripping some hot tracks from Myspace and head to a car boot sale!

simon h b said...

I was shopping in Past Times the other day (look, I had my reasons, okay?) and noticed they're amongst the first to make use of the things coming out of copyright - they've got CDs which, more or less admit on the sleeve that they've taped them off the original records so they're a bit crackly.

Now, eyetie... imagine if in some point in the future all those 80s records were suddenly available... possibly ripped from tapes kids made from the Radio One Top 40, including the little bit of Tony Blackburn saying "Up twenty-two fantastic top forty..." before you hit the pause button. And imagine the look on Michael Jackson's face (you'll have to guess what that looks like by then) as he sees his records finally selling again, but... not... helping... pay... his... legal... bills.

eyetie said...

Simon - If Jacko's still around in 30 years, I'll quite happily py his legal bills myself (assuming I'm still around, "natch").
Jacko just needs to lay low for a couple of decades, releasing the occasional album to keep his label happy and the obituarists away and then return to do a worldwide stadium tour where the audience will wonder at how someone who has abused himself so much can still entertain.
Worked for the Stones.

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