Friday, February 15, 2008

In my lifetime

More thoughts on the extension of copyright terms:

Copyright really is a deal with the public where the holder of the copyright gets a temporary monopoly and the public get to have the work in the public domain when the copyright expires.

I think that there should be a chance of seeing both ends of the deal. By that I mean that the tunes I heard when I was a kid should have entered the public domain during my lifetime (assuming three score years and ten).

The Register adds their view:

EU commissioner backs record biz on copyright extensions | The Register

So the big winners in any term extension will not be the starving artists, who will continue to starve anyway. The big winners will be the record companies and a small handful of super-stars.

I think a reduction to 25 years for all new copyrights would be a better move. This could be introduced over a long period to avoid any big bangs. While I may not see the music of my childhood in the public domain, it should be a goal to ensure that future generations do.


Reinout Heeck said...

Funny, when I contemplated what a good copyright term for composers would be I came to the conclusion that would be about 20-30 years. Seems we're pretty close on that one.

I haven't reached a firm conclusion regarding recordings of performances though, currently I'm leaning towards the following:

The copyright of such a recording should lay with the person or entity that does the actual recording but the right to publish it should be dependent on a (one-shot) permission by the performers. This way the performers can decide for themselves whether they want a lump sum or a part of the revenue (or whatever other construct - that's free market forces at work). A 25 year copyright protection for the entity doing the recording sounds reasonable to me as well.

Light operators and such can negotiate with the performers for a stake in the recordings, again: free market forces will shape the way this goes.


Bruce said...


I'd sign up for your proposal. Time would tell if any tweaks were needed.

The important first steps IMO are:

o Make the goals of copyright law clear (i.e. encourage creativity)

o Pick a reasonable term (i.e. 30 years or less)