back to article Big Music trumpets ‘Cliff Richard’ term extension

There’s quiet satisfaction across large parts of the music industry as Europe formally extends the copyright term on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. The music business fought off a rearguard action from Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom – whose raging against the corruption of the European Parliament may have eased the …

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Optional

I'm no expert but surely the rights for copying belong to the composer(s), and thus, it should last as long as they live, at which point they are owned by no-one (i.e. public domain).

I can understand that a percentage of the "fees" may go to the record label, but that'll be defined in the original recording contract - not the law.

Maybe if this was the case, it would be an incentive for the record labels to keep their artists on the "straight an narrow" as to prolong the life of their contractors and thus the record labels' income.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Optional

A sound recording is one copyright. A composition is another copyright.

Reading the article helps :-)

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"There are three copyrights on a sound recording"?

"There are three copyrights on a sound recording: the composition, which is seventy years plus life, and which goes to the author; a mechanical royalty which also goes to the composer, and the recording or ‘master’ right."

What a confusing paragraph - inconsistent language, muddled concepts etc. Author/composer? Mechanical royalty? Recording/master right? No wonder people fail to understand copyright and related rights.

If the material recorded is a song with words and music, then copyright subsists in the music and the words separately (authors as first owners) and in the sound recording (producer as first owner). Performers have a performance right. So yes, three copyright works (and a related right), but not as you describe them.

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WTF?

Music and the Machine

It seems highly inequitable that artists get 50-70 year copyright protection of their music, whilst the scientists and engineers that invent the machines used to play, record, transmit, publish, store and listen to that music only get 20-25 year patent protection.

If relatively short patent protection of scientific ideas is a 'good thing' (and helps to nurture innovation and economic success) - then why not apply the same time limits to artistic creation?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Music and the Machine

"If relatively short patent protection of scientific ideas is a 'good thing' (and helps to nurture innovation and economic success) - then why not apply the same time limits to artistic creation?"

Patent "protection" of scientific ideas is *not* a good thing. Science is about documenting and understanding nature; patents are monopolies. Put those together and you have people imposing monopoly control over how scientific discoveries are used. Even classic industrial "inventions" can exhibit disturbing properties when patents are involved.

The important distinction is that patents are monopolies over entire classes of activity whereas copyright is an instrument of control over a specific work. It is, however, worth asking whether a restriction on re-use of a specific work should last almost two lifetimes, and whether a work which has been broadcast repeatedly over the entire planet (presumably with collection agencies racking up the fees) should still enjoy the same level of "protection" as something whose value has not been realised in such a blatant (and annoying) fashion.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Music and the Machine

There is a cost to both. There is a limited social cost to giving EMI long-term exclusive rights over a piano knees-up, but a greater social cost to giving Westinghouse long-term exclusive rights over nuclear fusion.

The costs are then weighed against incentives.

The comparison of the two goes a long way to explain how laws like this get passed. Legislators think people proposing them are either really stupid, or a bit mad.

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WTF?

Patents bad thing....

So if "scientific" patents are so bad (do you cover medical studies in this?), how are the likes of Glaxo-SmithKlien going to recover the $7billion research budget? In perspective that's about the same as this country invests in science.

Why bother spending that much money when some knock off shop in India or China will rip of the product and put buuger all back?

Ahhh you mean thing such a hard science, maybe computing perhaps. So where will Intel get it's $5 billion investment if some other Fabrication factory can bang them out for 1/2 the cost?

So feel free to abolish all patents and watch people just not bother as it's not worth the effort

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Anonymous Coward

Illustration of the aspects

I invent a new way of making computer memory that runs twice as fast and doesn't produce heat. I build and sell computers that uses the new memory in a funky geodesic case. I coin a phrase for the new memory "MemWhooosh" which I use as the name of the computers. Each of my computers comes with a manual that I wrote myself in my own wordy style.

I patent the new invention. I then licence my idea to the memory manufacturers and they manufacture the new memory.

I register the design of the funky case, so no-one else can produce them legitimately without my say-so.

I trademark the word "MemWhoosh" so no-one else can use it legitmately on their computers without my agreement.

I have a copyright on the text in the computer manual.

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Happy

And if you wrote a funky little number about MemWhoosh....

This would have the longest term of protection.

Though whether it is possible to make a funky number about computer memory, I don't know. Perhaps get Jedward to perform it......

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FAIL

Not quite

You say that; but people still need stuff and just because it can't be milked and milked and milked over and over and over again, won't stop *everyone* from jumping in to meet their needs. Electricians still rewire houses, even although they only get paid once. Plumbers still install boilers, despite not getting paid every time the customer puts their central heating on. Builders still build houses and don't seem to mind that they don't get paid every time someone spends a night in them.

The simple fact is, not everybody is as greedy as you -- and maybe discouraging the greedy would be no bad thing anyway.

Drug patents are actually an interesting example because it seems that nowadays, all the companies seem to be doing is either (a) trying to work around other people's patents covering drugs that sell well (e.g. Levitra, Cialis as alternatives to Viagra) or (b) reformulating drugs that already worked fine but whose patents are about to expire, so as to be able to get a new patent. Actually curing diseases seems to be somewhat secondary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patents bad thing....

"So if "scientific" patents are so bad (do you cover medical studies in this?)"

No, why should you include medical studies? If you mean that this is where the up-front cost is in getting drugs to market, then tell us why it has to be tied to granting a monopoly on various discoveries, something which is a separate matter. You're assuming that monopoly grants is the only economic solution.

There are tests for diseases and disorders that are actually patented, meaning that some company can call the shots on whether those tests are affordable or not. Some ethnic groups can be predisposed to certain diseases and disorders, and it becomes very difficult to regard monopoly-granting on the technologies concerned as anything other than unethical. A patent becomes like a tax on a whole ethnic group. Maybe you're not interested in the ethical angle, though, because I'm pretty sure that legislators only want to know what the numbers say.

"how are the likes of Glaxo-SmithKlien"

GlaxoSmithKline

"going to recover the $7billion research budget? In perspective that's about the same as this country invests in science."

That says more about the country's priorities than it does about GSK.

"Why bother spending that much money when some knock off shop in India or China will rip of the product and put buuger all back?"

Isn't that what they're doing now? There's actually a real chance that such places will overtake the increasingly corrupt developed world over time, unless China's patent landfill gets too big and the companies there get the litigation disease, because they'll actually be doing stuff - you know, like making all the shiny products, rather than sketching them and asking for a monopoly - and that's how you develop expertise.

"Ahhh you mean thing such a hard science, maybe computing perhaps. So where will Intel get it's $5 billion investment if some other Fabrication factory can bang them out for 1/2 the cost?"

And how will they build their fabrication factory? That's where Intel excels - just ask AMD and various other competitors - and an area that requires a ton of effort of every kind.

"So feel free to abolish all patents and watch people just not bother as it's not worth the effort"

People will still bother. People who want the big lifelong payback for a single hit won't bother, though. And with that we return to the matter of Cliff Richard.

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Angel

Set them to music

It would seem that the best protection would be to set all scientific discoveries to music and sing them...

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Re: Set them to music

Pure genius. Have you patented that idea yet?

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Anonymous Coward

Seems unfair

Why am I not still getting paid for work I did 70 years ago?

Ok, I'm not that old. I'd be happy to be paid again for work I did 1 year ago.

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If you work for a software company, chances are you are being paid for work you (or some other employee) did a few years ago, probably due to copyright protection. That's fair, a company invests in developing software, with no guarantee of success, and if it works out they profit.

Not for 70 years though.

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On the oher hand, if work you did 70 years ago is still making money, then why shouldn't you get your share.

Suppose the extension hadn't been passed. Columbia/EMI would still get their cut for 'Move It!'. Ian Samwell - the composer - would stil get his. But now poor old Cliff's share would go to EMI fat cats leaving him cold and hungry in his Barbados mansion.

If EMI were going to use this extra money to finance interesting new bands, or reduce the price of Cliff's records then that might even be a good thing!

But they're not

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Unhappy

And not for a few minutes works, either.

We are talking about the copyright on a recording here. A few minutes work at most. He may have also written the song, but that's a different issue. Of course, the people that do the donkey work, the sound engineers and support people get a one-off payment.

In the time it took Sir Cliff to wail out Living Doll, I could probably crack out a "Hello World". How I would love to be paid £shitloads over 70 years, for that.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re:

Most of the beneficiaries are jobbing musicians.

The law both mandates a set-aside (20pc) for musicians, but also forbids record companies from clawing them back from the performers via deductions.

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Pirate

Seems unfair: rent-seeking activity

In classic economics rent was on land, because everyone needs to use some and it isn't being made anymore, so those who own and rent it out can live off the proceeds and don't need to work.

There are limits to the extent to which everyone else can be screwed over land rents, so new forms of artificial monopoly were invented. The form of enclosure called "intellectual property" taken to excess has also become a remarkably lucrative scam, partly because the main beneficiaries have been in a position to ensure that any "debate" over limiting the extent of this would be one sided. Few politicians choose to start fights with those who purchase ink by the barrel, which got the likes of Murdoch and his spawn into a position where Blair had to fly around the world to pay homage before he had any chance of winning the 1997 election. If you had imagined that the issue about undue influence of the owners of the media was restricted just to phone tapping you would have been wrong.

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@Andrew re 12:53

Hang on Andrew, now you’ve got me discombobulated, how come Sony were able to “re-issue” some of Morrisseys/the smiths recordings in 2009 prompting Morrissey ask people not to buy the boxed sets because he wasn’t receiving any royalties from the sale of the boxed sets.

That’s the same Morrissey that didn’t pass a fair share of the bands royalties to Joyce and Rourke

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Rent-seeking - a simple introduction

In classical economics the capitalist can do two things with his stash. (1) He can invest it in a company that makes things. If the company succeeds, his share of the original investment enlarges in proportion - he makes money. If the company fails, he loses the stash. (2) He can buy an asset and draw an income from its use by someone else: land is the classic example. A little imagination show the up-sides and down-sides to each option. And so things remained...

Until Mussolini hit upon the idea of guaranteeing profits for companies. This took the risk out of investing in manufacturing companies. Latterly, instead of investing in productive economic activity, it has become fashionable to invest in virtual activity (e.g. internet start-ups boom). All this made the renting-out alternative look unattractive. Why invest in something like a piece of land with a very low annual rate of return that requires a lifetime to get the initial capital paid back, when you can run a bus-company for a Local Authority and get a guranteed annual return of 20% - when you are the monopoly supplier, and you have the customer by the balls. This economic regime is not capitalism, but fascism - the free market in consumer choice has disappeared.

Rent-seeking is what Little Jack Horner, having pulled out his plum, would be doing by having the government fix it that he could get money by repeating the trick without competition for... well, for ever...

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LPF

What I cant undertsand is why do these people not put money into pensions instead of blowing it on coke! this is a complete joke!

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Anonymous Coward

Pensions don't get you high

and it is quite difficult to snort them in the nightclub toilets.

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WTF?

Nulla Poena Sine Lege

Surely it would not be lawful to extend the term of existing copyrights?

This would seem to be a clear violation of article VII of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The deal you agreed to when your copyright was awarded was, you got your fifty years' protection -- knowing full well that it was fifty years -- strictly on the understanding that the material would eventually be released to the Public Domain. If you try to renege on your original promise to release the material to the Public Domain after the originally-agreed term, then you should be estopped from asserting the conditional privilege granted to you.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Nulla Poena Sine Lege

No promise has been made.

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Hmm, what happens to recordings that had already left copyright , say recordings from 1960? Do they now return to a copyrighted status? Or does this only affect recordings from 1961 onwards?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

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Ulysses went from copyright, to out of copyright, back to copyright again when the author's term was extended. I expect this is no different.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely 50 years is more than enough!

Why on earth would you need to extend copyright protection even further?

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Happy

It's theft, pure and simple

Copyright isn't a "right" in any sense of the word: it is a balance set by society to encourage people to produce intellectual property. The role of the government should be to set copyright to its welfare-maximising level (i.e., the term that generates the biggest benefit to society), not to reward to the creators at the expense of everybody else. Economic research suggests that a term of around 15 years from creation is best. Therefore, the law should be that copyright runs for 15 years, with no exceptions, and if Cliff Richard is on his upper then he can go and get a job like the rest of us.

Retrospectively _increasing_ copyright is a pure and simple theft from the public domain, and the lobbyists who called for it (e.g., the BPI) should be arrested for conspiracy. The _only_ people who will benefit from this are some record company shareholders (e.g., Citi) and a very small number of rich artists. Everyone else will lose out.

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Go

Theft of Our Public Domain

There's no justification at all for this. The purpose of copyright is to get creative work, and the balance is between rewarding creators and getting work into the public domain.

In terms of past work by these artists, we already have it. We don't need to stuff more money into Cliff's mouth to get Move It and Devil Woman, he was happy to record at 50 years.

The only possible justification would be on new recordings, that we've looked at copyright term and decided that we aren't getting enough good work, so better to increase it to encourage more. Pretty hard to believe considering that films like Casablanca and Citizen Kane were made when copyright was shorter.

I doubt that any poet, pop star or movie company projects the money they'll be making even 2 decades later, because most art disappears into obscurity before that. Set copyright term at 20 years and I doubt you'll see any less art produced, and the public will receive the benefit of work entering the public domain.

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Thumb Down

Benefit of working entering the public domain

The primary benefit of work entering the public domain is that it can be used without paying for it. The main beneficiary of music entering the public domain so soon would be businesses not individuals.

Imagine a situation where the likes of Nike or Apple could have their pick of any song over 20 years old for their advertising campaigns. How would it be fair for those multi nationals to exploit creative works for their own profit without having to compensate the creator?

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FAIL

Or

"Imagine a situation where the likes of Nike or Apple could work in an office I built over 20 years ago. How would it be fair for those multi nationals to exploit this building for their own profit without having to compensate the creator?"

Erm, doesn't sound quite right now does it?

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Anonymous Coward

@Tim Almond

You've missed the point by a mile.

If a record is still being played on the radio 50 years later, and people are enjoying it (self-evidently true), then everyone is profiting from it EXCEPT the performer.

Please don't kid yourself you're anti-corporate, you're benefiting the corporations at the expense of the artist. The rich not the poor.

Up our way we call that "exploitation". You're just sticking a big happy smiley on it.

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@AC 13th Sep 23:30

No, people are simply *enjoying* it, not profiting from it. Or do you think Shakespeare's plays should still be in copyright because people are still enjoying them? The point isn't that works should enter the public domain when nobody likes them any more, it is that works should enter the public domain while they still have some use left in them and the original creator has profited from them just enough to encourage him to make more.

Copyrights should be about 15 to 20 years, and should be non-transferable.

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Silver badge

No, you've missed the point

If a toilet is still flushing properly 50 years later, and people are enjoying it (self-evidently true), then everyone is profiting from it EXCEPT the plumber who installed it.

If a house is still standing 50 years later, and people are enjoying it (self-evidently true), then everyone is profiting from it EXCEPT the builder.

On the other hand, these people already got paid all they were ever going to get at the time; and even knowing that, they still went ahead and did it.

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@ sketch

"without having to compensate the creator?"

Show me a creator that is still alive 70 years after the creation and I might take the time to refute the rest of your flawed argument.

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Meh

irrelevant to most artists

Given that Big Music routinely ignore their contractual obligations to pay royalties on a massive scale I don't see how this change will benefit most musicians at all.

Not to mention the deliberate use of unlicensed material on Big Music products.

Big Music operates on the basis of "well if the rights owners get a serious lawyer then we might offer them something to go away". Of course this makes it almost impossible to value a Big Music company since it may have huge hidden liabilities that can only be discovered by a detailed audit beyond the normal 'due diligence' procedures. Not to mention that they often claim, in writing, to unpaid artists that their internal systems are unable to provide details of royalties due over periods that may be up to 10 years or longer - would you invest in a company whose financial reports are presumably derived from such systems ?

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Anonymous Coward

PRS?

Hang on a second......

What some of you may not know - PRS - The "collection" agency responsible for collecting fees in this country doesn't work in the way you might think.

If we play background music in our theatre - we have to pay them a sum of money - but the sum of money is based on the an estimate of how many people over the course of a year might listen to the background music - PRS are not not interested in what music it is we are playing.

If we have a live performance (Theatre Organ Concert) PRS are only interested in how many people attend - not what the live music is.

How does (for example) the likes of Cliff Richard get some of the money we pay PRS if we decide to play Summer Holiday if PRS don't know we are playing it?

My partner who has been involved in Theatre for 40 odd years tells me that the money we pay PRS is simply distributed amongst whoever is currently in the top 20 UK chart.

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PRS has to be that way: practicality

Its hard enough to get performance venues to report on what's played: with canned music it just wouldn't happen. You'd never get any returns and those you did would probably just say 30 repitions of Mary had a Little Lamb...

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But if the PRS can't (be bothered to) find out which music is being played, and therefore how much of the money should go to each artist, what is the justification for collecting it?

Collecting money and giving it to the wrong person is no better than not collecting the money at all.

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Its not a question of PRS not being bothered...

AIUI what they do is a sample from the data they do have and extrapolate it to the rest. Its the only practical thing to do. PRS cannot collect the data themselves: they have to rely on the licencees otherwise the overheads would be unbelieveable.

Major radio stations, TV companies, major concert halls and the like are required to report every single item they play. They have enough resources that its not an unreasonable overhead. I think small radio stations, big clubs and the like are required to produce sample data. I think quite a lot of the sampling at big venues is done with people sent to the venues. Small venues and licencees aren't required to report at all. For why see below.

So the PRS end up with a pretty big database of what's being played out there. Everytime your stuff is *recorded* as having been played you get a cut of the income in proportion, less the management overhead, which ranges between 12 and 25% for different income sources. PRS is a "not for profit" so there are no shareholders getting a cut.

At the top end the cut you get is going to be pretty representative, but unfortunately at the bottom of the scale it runs into statsitical problems... If your tune is played once and it hits a sample venue or day then you get paid and paid more than one play strictly warrants, if on the other hand you miss a sample with your one play you don't get paid at all.

There's obviously a constant juggling match between accuracy and overheads... The more accurate the data gathering then greater the overheads in gathering the data are, and whilst the payment distribution is fairer the actual money the performers get is less.

All this is on the PRS website, but maybe takes a bit of reading, I suppose I've taken half an hour to research this comment.

Why small venues aren't required to report...

===================================

Consider, for instance, many years ago I used to work in a takeaway food shop where all the staff were major music fans and quite a number of us were semi pro musicians to a greater or lesser extent. We had a PRS license and we had something like a thousand tapes in the shop (we counted them one quiet evening when we couldn't decide what to put on next). Those might be tapes of albums, our own compilation tapes, even our own demo tapes. When you were really busy when a tape finished you'd just throw in the nearest one to have some noise... PRS could have handed us all the forms and order us to tell us exactly what we'd played and we'd never have bothered.. Well, maybe those of us with PRS membership might have been tempted to lie and say we'd played our own tapes all night and fuill in the forms like that...

So in many environments PRS could spend as much time as they like asking what's being played and they won't get an answer. Its hard enough to get places like shops to buy PRS licenses at all... I expect there's some dumb *****s out there who will say that if they aren't prepared to have a full time employee in every venue collecting all the data they shouldn't bother, but they won't have got this far down the essay anyway.

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Angel

"While term extension undoubtedly benefits performers"

That would be because...?

I think you'll find that most performers are dead long before that. Actually most performer are dead long before the previous limit of 50 years. Which is not even very relevant given that they seldom retain copyright to begin with. And of course the more valuable the copyright, the more incentive "Big Music" has to rip it from the actual creative people.

It is as good for performers as the increase of road tax is good for motorists

It is good for you if you happen to have a stack of EMI shares laying around, though.

Icon because Hurray! More money for big labels' shareholders will save starving artists! Or will it?

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WTF?

Copyright in perpetuity

Why do the copyright mafiaa need to extend the copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years???

All as they have to do is to reissue then as "new digitally re-mastered"/new compilations/add a bonus track etc. recordings, making then "new" recordings, and Voilà; another 50/70 years copyright.

Just think; all that is required is for Edisons 1877 recording of "Mary had a little lamb" to be reissued in 1927 and 1977 for it still to be in “sound recording copyright”.

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Delusional haters

Copyright laws exist in all civilized countries to protect art. If you want that are then pay for it or go without. There is no God given right to someone else's art.

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'Copyright laws exist in all civilized countries to protect art. If you want that are then pay for it or go without. There is no God given right to someone else's art.'

I think you will find that there is no argument here that suggests that copyright shouldn't exist on recordings, the debate is simply about the length of that copyright and the tangled mess(composer/performer etc.) that exists. Personally I feel 50 years is adequate, a reversion to public domain should occur with a caveat (that we are all familiar with) about commercial use being forbidden without a licence. In other words, after 50 years Joe Soap can have free access but BigCorp must pay a fee to the original rights owners to broadcast/reuse etc.

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Anonymous Coward

>> In other words, after 50 years Joe Soap can have free access but BigCorp must pay a fee to the original rights owners to broadcast/reuse etc. <<

Which means you have to define what a Big Corp is - which is completely unnecessary and creates tons of new litigation and bureaucracy. Most labels and publishers are tiny - are they Big Corps too?

It also means those Big Corps benefit at the expense of the performer.

Broadcasters pay the performers via a collecting society - Big Corp doesn't come into it, except as a recipient. The societies distribute money from broadcasters to the performers, composers and the labels.

If you understood how copyright works you would see how daft your proposal is. Unfortunately most Copyright Commentards know jack shit about it - they just want to rant about Big Corps.

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Anonymous Coward

Joe Soap ain't getting nothing free

Why would Joe Soap be allowed to get something for free? It makes no sense. Do car companise give away cars or PC companies computers?

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Anonymous Coward

No composer's permission needed for re-issue of public-domain-recordings

"What the extension doesn’t mean is that sound automatically enters the public domain. Remember the composer’s copyright is unchanged, so without the composer’s permission, such a recording is really a ‘bootleg’."

This is wrong. After a composition has been lawfully published/recorded, composers have to allow cover versions (everyone can record a version of the song). And the composers (in most cases not even the performers) can do nothing about re-issues.

The different length of the copyrights for compositions (life plus 70 years) and sound recordings (70 years after publications) means that even when the sound recording is in the public domain (no royalties to the performers) the labels who reissue these public-domain-recordings have to pay royalties to the composers.

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Devil

Title

>Copyright laws exist in all civilized countries to protect art.<

Or... Extended copyright laws exist to maintain the rotting corpse of a few giant entertainment consortiums who manipulate politicians for their own gains - kind'a like bankers don't want oversight committee's watching what they're doing, or politicians liking to claim ridiculous expenses.

Very few musicians see returns on their albums after a couple of years, maybe a few long lived ones, the Rolling Stones, Bowie, Cliff etc.

The entire system is corrupt to it's core.

Artists create art because an itch forces them to.

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Anonymous Coward

Generic illiterate rant

Shouldn't you be at TorrentFreak? You have seem to have wandered in by mistake.

>> The entire system is corrupt to it's core.

A bit like your spelling, grammar and logic.

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