Monday, July 26, 2004

"LEGAL LOOPHOLE" APPARENTLY NOW JUST A LAW: The BBC have given a somewhat overfair hearing to the BPI's desperate bid to try and change the terms of copyright rules on recordings in their favour. The BPI claim that this is in someway "a legal loophole" which needs to be closed, rather than what it actually is - an existing, working piece of copyright legislation which they want changed. But why is it a loophole that the protection doesn't last longer? Why isn't the loophole that it lasts so long? Should we all start to pretend that laws that don't work in our benefit aren't actually laws, but legal loopholes?

The BPI tries to use the argument that the fifty year law could mean recordings coming out of copyright "in the artist's lifetime" - so? Leaving aside that they're using Elvis as the posterboy for the campaign, and unless they know something we don't, he's pretty dead ("How can we take away his copyright until the National Inquirer have accepted his death", maybe?) are they suggesting that it's unfair that artists should be disinherited before they even die? How many recording artists own the rights to their records? Hardly any. But, fair enough, if the BPI's main concern is that artists could still be alive and see the copyright expire before their eyes, let's fix copyright at the length of the recording artist's life. Have fun with those Eva Cassidy songs off Kazaa, now. Help yourself to a Lennon or two. We'd happily volunteer to bring all Jamie Cullum's work out of copyright right now.

Ah, but that's not the BPI's only worry. In America, copyright in recorded material lasts much longer. It's unfair to have a different situation in Europe to that in America. Now, we might have more sympathy for this were it not that the same BPI, when it's suggested to them that it's unfair that CDs are cheaper in the US than they are in the UK, snort and say "Yeah? Well, lots of things are different in the US. It doesn't mean we have to be like them.

Let's hope they get sent packing. Free Elvis recordings for everyone!

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