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back to article EC misleading EU on copyright extension, says boffin

A leading academic has warned that the European Commission "wilfully ignored" studies that it paid for whose conclusions disagreed with its policy, and that the Commission is misleading the European Union Council, Parliament and citizens over copyright extension. Professor Bernt Hugenholtz is the director of the University of …

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Anonymous Coward

I hear dead people, they don't know they're dead....

It's not just the duration, (which automatically means that work will be owned by descendants, or more likely the record companies, and the contracts won't be verifiable because witnesses will be dead, as will the artist).

It's also the really dumb McCreevy 'use it or lose it' clause.

"McCreevy has made one concession to opponents of the extension, a "use it or lose it" clause, that will allow artists to reclaim the rights to a recording if the record label decides not to reissue it after 50 years."

This is meaningless, the contract the person signs will simply say something like "if copyright reverts back to the performer after 50 years, the performer agrees to automatically re-assign it to us for 1 pound (prepaid) ". So that cannot work, and he does not appear to have taken outside advice on this matter either.

It's not been properly thought through.

If he seriously wants it to support old artists then copyright should expire on their death so it doesn't become an ongoing overhead with record companies milking re-releases of dead recording artists work instead of paying new artists to record new versions.

If he seriously wants the recording to revert to the artists if it's unused then he needs to do it sooner than 50 years and needs to make it compulsory and unwaivable, so it cannot be preassigned at contract signing.

65 years retirement age, so the work should revert when the person reaches 65 at most. Although you could set a minimum of 20 years on that, so that a 50 year old can license their work for 20 years.

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Stop

Your taxes at work.

This kind of behaviour has worked wonderfully for Gordon Broon, specifically with research into the reclassifation of cannabis, and the possibilities of reducing fuel duty. The only problem that he ran into was that everyone knew that he'd spent loads of money on the research in order to give him the answer, unfortunately it wasn't the answer he wanted so he did what he wanted regardless of the cost.

Sounds familiar doesn't it?

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Alert

Copy right and wrong

95 Years just sounds crazy to me. Successful musicians and performers will have made their money long before and the others, well, they should try again or change jobs.

The cost of supervising and enforcing copyrights for the timespan of a century must be huge -- if done properly. And if it's not properly enforced, then why make such laws? I think the current changes in laws concerning 'intellectual property' come at a huge cost to society and suppress creativity all around. Lets hope democracy will eventually go back to defending the commons as opposed to selling it out to the highest bidders.

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Bitter

I think the Prof is just bitter because he just realized he could've taken the money, written "spam spam spam spam kippers" on every page, and sodded off down the pub. Or brasserie.

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Linux

95 years?

So if I write a song at birth I'll still be needing income from it when I'm 10 years dead?

Surely 20-25 years is enough time to make a profit from a song, "artists" manage to crank out alot of "songs" each year.

Books are a different matter - they take a long time to produce, and can't be replicated in any sensible way (a book cover is quite different)

Software is a different matter again - if you haven't released an update in a few years...

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Anonymous Coward

@Schultz

One of the main difficulties for people/organisations trying to make use of a copyright work is tracing the copyright owner, generally this leads to an insurance policy being taken out just in case the owner resurfaces. However, with criminal penalties being increasingly favoured by legislators, such uncertainties are likely to restrict such usage even further at risk to our knowledge-based economy!

Perhaps it's time to have a shorter default copyright period and a longer period for those wishing to register and maintain their right as already happens in other areas of IP law!

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Happy

Simple solution to a simple problem

Just change the laws so that individual persons can hold copyright, companies cannot. Same with patents.

And watch how the companies will do their utmost to have copyright periods reduced to a fraction of a second, because that would allow them to use the copyrighted work without paying the actual creator(s).

//Svein

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I wish...

...I could be paid for work I completed 10 years ago. I have to keep on working, unlike some slackers (Mr Cliff Richard, I'm talking to you, but I suspect you probably don't hang out here) who do a bit of work 50 years ago and then moan when there's a threat of their income from it drying up.

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Flame

Down with the EUCCP!

What else is new? Our new Politburo is unelected, unaccountable and totally out of control (i.e. Very Nu'Labor). If we peons decide to want our freedom back from this lot of commissars, we shall have to form a Frankenstein mob, march on Brussels and torch the damn place!

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@John Robson

Two words for you:

e

books.

Pretty easy. And a book doesn't get read anywhere near as often as a CD.

5 years is enough to get maybe 90% of the profit from 90% of the work made available commercially. Make it from first public release and allow NDA on such materials a statutory requirement and you lose every need of corporations to sit on works to get it cheap (and any reason to kill off the authors, which is always the problem brought up when a "life" copyright is made up, though I never see how removing copyright is better than sharing the much larger profit on a monopoly work under copyright, but there we go).

5 years may be too short, but it is enough for the release and probably a re-release and maybe (for music) a compilation.

If someone is willing to wait 5 years for your book/CD/whatever they weren't really a client for your work, were they.

Maybe some longer because although it is VASTLY faster to get worldwide release that may still mean a significant fraction of the five years is taken getting a release done (because it's always done for minimum expense). However, as a starting point, that seems a good one to begin on.

And a five year copyright would have almost nobody willing to breach copyright: the cost of breaking it is high and waiting is so easy and worthwhile. Cost vs benefit on either keeping the law or breaking it means obeying the law is not a problem. With a 95 year copyright, waiting is NOT an option and the cost of being caught no worse.

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Copyright Theft

Copyright is an agreement between society and the creator of a work (sound, vision, book, pickled shark) that the creator shall have the exclusive right to profit from that creation for a period of time, so that they may earn their living thereby.

Any attempt to claim a longer period of copyright than that in force at the time of creation is, therefore, in breach of this agreement, hence, immoral and a form of theft.

Any revision of the length of copyright can only justifiably take place in respect of newly created works.

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Coat

Simple solution.

Kill all creative artists right now, then no matter what, in 95 years at the most, it's all over!

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RW
Jobs Horns

Software

I needed to download a Win98 DLL the other day that was causing Firefox to piss itself, and discovered that the MS site no longer offered it for download. At a guess, MS has axed all the Win98 updates and such, never mind that there are still millions of machines out there running it, and that more than a few people have hardware and software that won't run under any later version of Windows.

(Fortunately, it turned out I already had a copy of the relevant version of MSVCRT.DLL.)

I'm perfectly happy with copyrights on software lasting forever -- as long as the copyright holder is under an onus to fix bugs and security holes and maintain update facilities.

No bug fix, no copyright.

And attach the copyright to the source code, so that mantra actually reads "if no bug fix, then you have to release the source code."

Would this make Ballmer throw another chair?

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Dog bites man

So Eurocrats just do what they want, whatever. What's new about that? Its an anti democratic organisation.

Not "un"

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Should be a couple of years at the most.

In the original days, music was sheet music passed to various orchestras so took time for a return of earnings. Fair enough. This was probably kept going as the first 78s were only played on a few players and again needed time for returns to come in.

Nowadays it is instant. Music is released worldwide simultaneously, the income starts at the first day. (and with most of todays artists stops at the second)

Hence there is no longer a need for a long protection period.

Contrary to the EC recommendation it should actually be shortened - 10 years seems fair but 5 would be better, or as aforementioned something on the lines of after 5 years copyright reverts to the artist for another 5 years.

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A better way.

Yi! 95 years, who gave them that, used to be 50 years. This is a ridiculous money grab. They should have 20 years exclusive copyright, and then open licenses for 50 years at prescribed low royalty rates, or the lifetime of the author plus 20 years, whichever is latter. In this case, companies would sign up with a central authority after the first 20 years and use the music under a simple contract and content registered with the authority.

Schultz, they have not made enough of our money yet.

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Copy right and wrong

By Schultz

95 Years just sounds crazy to me. Successful musicians and performers will have made their money long before and the others...

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@Svein Skogen

Agree 100%. Copyright and Patents should be only assignable to physical persons.

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