back to article US Congress mulls expanding copyright yet again – to 144 years

The US Congress is looking to effectively extend copyright on some sound recordings to a staggering 144 years – making it the twelfth time copyright rules have been extended or expanded since the 1970s. The CLASSICS Act being debated in the Senate and House would create a new federal copyright rule for sound recordings made …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the law looks like a donkey, it becomes an ass.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Perhaps this latest will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Nah... people will simply ignore it, and go on as usual.

        Even Joe Average has figured out by now that copyright does not exist for the benefit of the artists..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd reply with a 'Smiley' emoticon, but unfortunately they were trademarked a long time ago.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      FAIL

      Crony Capitalism at it's best

      Like the clause in the DMCA that means copyright on a digital recording is not owned by the artist but by the recording company.

      Helpfully inserted by a Senatorial staffer who later joined a large record lable.

      How many Senators actually wrote this law?

      How many will read it?

      How many will actually understand it's implications?

      And this is the benefit for no life limits on Congressional seats in either house.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Crony Capitalism at it's best

        How many Senators actually wrote this law?

        Who told you it was written by a senator? It was written by character with large ears, tail and traditionally wearing short pants with two big buttons. From the species Mus Musculus if memory serves me right.

        The senators are simply its servants.

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Crony Capitalism at it's best

          "Who told you it was written by a senator? It was written by character with large ears, tail and traditionally wearing short pants with two big buttons. From the species Mus Musculus if memory serves me right."

          I'm reminded of a lyric from David Bowie's Life on Mars:

          "It's on America's tortured brow,

          That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow."

          Won't somebody think of the record companies children?

          1. John Lilburne Silver badge

            Re: Crony Capitalism at it's best

            "I'm reminded of a lyric from David Bowie's Life on Mars:"

            I'm reminded that Bowie's estate can now claim license for each time Spotify et al stream that song. Odd that had he recorded it in 1972 they would have been no issues. But hey lets have the EFF etc tell us why a song recorded in on 01/01/1972 get a Federal copyright but one recorded on 31/12/1971 doesn't.

      2. Rainer

        Re: Crony Capitalism at it's best

        Laws are mostly written by law-firms these days.

        As it goes, the same law-firms often also happen to represent the corporations the laws are about.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Crony Capitalism at it's best

          @Rainer

          Are you telling me that Mickey Mouse isn't a lawyer? Or that Law Firms aren't Mickey Mouse organisations? I'm afraid that you'll need proof to disprove both of those statements.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "When the law looks like a donkey, it becomes an ass."

      ... as US politics are involved there'll be an elephant in the room as well!

  2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Facepalm

    how long before...

    Suddenly Mozart is back in copyright? Ancient Egyptians filling lawsuits over use of drums? Greek poets suing for infringement?

    Let the stuff go. Get it out there and let people have something nice without having those not actively involved in creating music coin it in...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RIAA factoid #17: the Missing Mozarts

      We all celebrate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as an unparalleled prodigy, but did you know that it is said [*] that many equally great composers lived in Vienna at the same time. But since the Austrian Empire lacked a farsighted approach to intellectual property these others could not trust in a revenue stream for their great great grandchildren and so instead became trainers of Lipizzaner horses.

      [*] not really said. Hissed by a flickering forked tongue, actually.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: RIAA factoid #17: the Missing Mozarts

        The only reason that Mozart's (very incomplete) Requiem ever saw the light of day is that his widow needed it finishing in order to get the money from the commission - no residuals for her. Had she been able to rely on a steady income, the work would almost certainly have been entirely lost.

        If you look at a list of "culturally significant" musicians, you won't find on it many people who made a lot of money during their lifetime and of those whose works were commercially successful, very little of that money will have ended up in their hands unless they had extremely good lawyers.

        Not that this will matter to the rental slavesstreaming consumers who will happily pay their monthly fee in perpetutity without really caring that hardly any of it is going to the creators of the music or that their access to it could be withdrawn on a whim.

        1. John Lilburne Silver badge

          Re: RIAA factoid #17: the Missing Mozarts

          Of the top of my head both Schubert and Handel made a shed load of money from copyright.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: how long before...

      No because the studios have no interest in making it back dated.

      eg Pinochio was written fewer years before the Disney movie than the Disney movie is to today

      The 144 years would be reasonable if it was retroactive - to all the C19 books of fairytales that the Mouse House based its movies on

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: how long before...

        "The 144 years would be reasonable"

        No, it's really not reasonable. It's "gross". Why is it 144 anyway? What kind of rectal extrapolation made THAT determination?

        This entire proposal stinks of rectal juice. Because that's where they pulled it out from.

        Copyright should have a reasonable restriction in time. Otherwise, it's just "money grubbing" by entities that live longer than the humans that created the content in the FIRST place.

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      @Sgt_Oddball

      You do know Mozart carried out the most audacious act of piracy in music history?

      The Vatican had successfully protected its copyright on the famous Allegri Miserere for 150 years when Mozart, aged about 14, was touring in Rome and heard a performance at the Vatican. With his famously-perfect ear and memory, he transcribed it afterwards, and released it for the outside world.

      But the article talks of recordings, not of music. The world could be a better place if some of that muzak priced itself out of our public spaces!

    4. kurios

      Re: how long before...

      Even now, major US media companies are sponsoring research into reincarnating Sophocles, Euripides, and others so as to assert their media rights under the 4,000 year copyright extension to be introduced in the next Congressional session.

      1. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: how long before...

        OK this is how stupid the EFF and Doctrow are being about this. Without the classics act the copyright protection is not one single Federal statute but is based on State by State protection and some of States do indeed have perpetual copyright terms. The EFF and Doctrow should careful that they don't get what they ask for.

    5. cosmogoblin

      Re: how long before...

      Let the stuff go

      Careful, you came very close to infringing the copyright of a certain froz cold Disn cartoon princess there...

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Copyright, Patents all screwed.

    As the article notes, the principle of copyright is simple. The creator should be able to benefit from their work. So the primary factor is 'is the creator alive'? It's perhaps not unreasonable to allow creators to leave their assets to others when they die (or before if they wish), but that should be strictly limited - so copyright should be limited to the life of the creator + 10 years. And if it's unclear whether a creator is alive or dead, and if they haven't been heard of for seven years they can be deemed dead, then some form of standard rate royalty paid into a central escrow system, which pays out if the creator turns up, or when they are deemed dead it's paid to suitable charitable purposes.

    Stuff Disney!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

      so copyright should be limited to the life of the creator + 10 years.

      Stuff the ten years - even royalties for life is overly generous. The blokes who designed the toilets we shit in doesn't get royalties at all, and that's a far more important job than self indulgent dribblers moaning into microphones. And never mind the blokes designing the shitters, what about the navvies who laid the pipes, why don't the bloody narcissists of the "creative" industries have to pay per shit to the people who built the infrastructure their miserable lives depend upon. And pay to walk in streets served by street sweepers, tarmaced by navvies, like by 'leccy and lighting technicians, etc etc.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

        I can see where you're coming from, but don't entirely agree.

        1) The bloke who designed the toilet, depending on the cleverness of the design, CAN get royalties by patenting the thing, and licensing its use.

        2) The bloke who laid the pipes didn't invent the pipes. He offered to work for 3s. a day to do whatever work was required.

        3) The bloke who laid the tarmac? Was paid his 3s. per day for the work, and no-one else (generally) charges you to walk on it, except sometimes on a toll road where the organisation that owns the land and paid for the tarmac may charge you. Copyright is there so that the author profits from their work, but also stops others profiting from the same work without doing any of the work in the first place.

        1. Holtsmark

          Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

          But here comes the BIG issue:

          A patent can be extended to around 20 years (depending on country) after FILING.

          This means that ground breaking expensive new technologies that need time to reach market maturity often runs out of patent time before it earns any money, while the rhythmic moaning of some idiot who can not hold a tone without massive computer filtering is protected for all eternity.

          It is definitely time to release the mouse.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            "the rhythmic moaning of some idiot who can not hold a tone without massive computer filtering"

            good one! [it's why I don't listen to most 'modern' RIAA stuff']

        2. dbtx Bronze badge

          Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

          Copyright is there so that the author profits from their work, but also stops others profiting from the same work without doing any of the work in the first place.

          Supposedly, purportedly, ideally, ostensibly, etc. But not really. I thought everyone here and there already covered that. Writing contracts and conferring with lawyers isn't the same kind of work.

        3. cosmogoblin

          Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

          And if you believe that in the record industry, the author is usually the one to profit from their work, perhaps I can interest you in some prime lunar real estate.

      2. cosmogoblin

        Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

        How about teachers? Should the person who taught you maths get a royalty every time you use Pythagoras' theorem? Should the person who taught you English get a royalty every time you write an email?

        Or should your midwife get a royalty every time you... uh, breathe?

        But of course that's not an honest comparison, since it's the labels who benefit, rarely the artists. So maybe the school you attended, the hospital you were born at, should get those royalties.

        Some things can be debated and defended. A life+144 years copyright rule? Not so much.

    2. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

      > but that should be strictly limited - so copyright should be limited to the life of the creator + 10 years.

      I think a good case can be made for life + 50 years, like it was in most European countries until recently. It is actually the minimum prescribed by the Berne copyrigt convention. It gives a useful legacy for the heir of an artist for their lifetime, or most of it, (usually), but does not stretch to practical infinity,

      1. EarthDog

        Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

        Life + 50? Why? So the person's freeloading relatives can make money with no work and then brag about what clever business people? And then decry the poor for being lazy parasites? If you want to see parasite go to a pricey resort town and watch all the trust fund babies stuffing their monthly checks up their noses.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

          Patents are for about 17 years, right? So why shouldn't copyright be the same?

          Write or perform a song, and let society give you a monopoly of 15 or 20 years to monetise it. When your monopoly expires, then either write a new song, continue gigging, or get a proper job.

          In any case, as others have pointed out, generally it's not the author or performer who benefits, but the corporation who has acquired the rights.

          It seems also that copyright gives a strong incentive *not* to use real musicians.

          Example 1: quite a few years ago, Coronation Street re-recorded its iconic theme tune using synthesisers - presumably to get around repeat performance fees. (It was a very close copy; you probably wouldn't notice the change without a good ear, but I did)

          Example 2: I once bought for my young daughter a Dorling Kindersley book about musical instruments. It came with a CD containing small pieces by each instrument so you could learn how they sounded. Except they weren't recordings of real instruments: they were all performed on a synthesiser.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            Within recent memory the law was that copyright lasted 70 years from the point of creation, which was both fair and easy to track. Created in 1900, copyright expires 1970.

            As soon as you get into life of author + something then you actually have to figure out who the Author was, and when they died which requires a lot more time and effort that just looking at ©2018 and knowing that the copyright expires in +70 years.

          2. cosmogoblin

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            If I create and release a song, I* get money not just for the original performance, but every time it's used by anybody anywhere (outside of private homes and earbuds), for the rest of my life.

            But I'm not a singer, I'm a physics teacher. If I come up with a great analogy that helps a student understand an equation, and they go on to use that understanding in their future job, do I get to claim 10p every time they use the equation?

            Of course not - and neither should I. I get paid for teaching those students this year, and I get future money by teaching different students; musicians should get their future money by writing and singing new and different songs. The idea that you did something decades ago and therefore have the right to be paid for it today is not something that exists in most industries.

            * Not actually I, of course, a bunch of copyright trolls instead, but ignore for the sake of analogy

          3. Sanguma

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed. synthesiser

            :Except they weren't recordings of real instruments: they were all performed on a synthesiser.:

            And the joke with that is that most modern synthesizers' voices aren'f synthesized: they are recordings, averaged out, of particular instruments. My own electronic piano has several voices, and they are all recordings of real instruments.

            Actual synthesis seems to be a lost art, unless you can write your own synth in code, or fork out big bucks for a top-of-the-line synth from someone who actually makes them.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

          Life + 50? Why?

          Well, if you're in your latter stages of life, you might want to protect your good idea for your families benefit after you're gone. Otherwise copyright would simply be issued to the youngest relative in the family, achieving the same thing for the creators family, but immediately depriving the creator of control of their work while alive.

          I might write a book. At 40+ at least half my life is gone (I'm Northern, so 40 is to us is like 60 in Kent). It would make sense to register copyright in my kids names rather than in my own.

          Not everyone who seeks to pass on some of their earnings to their children produces drug fulled trust fund babies, or even trust funds at all. People who have earned their money have every right to pass it on to their children upon death, or before, should they so choose. Given that it is inordinately difficult to pass wealth down beyond the 3rd generation after it is acquired, this hardly seems a problem for state intervention; most of the inherited-enough-wealth-not-to-work brigade squander it because they have no idea how money, commerce, or real life work.

          1. Eguro

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            How's about author's life + 50, but no more than 70?

            Get the best of both worlds - though perhaps author's life + 10, but no more than 30 might seem more reasonable to me.

            If your song suddenly resurges after 30 years, then hopefully you'll have other ways of supporting you by then - and you can still take the band on tour, since the original creator ought to attract a crowd (assuming the song is popular enough).

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

              "If your song suddenly resurges after 30 years"

              A resurgence of 80's music, WITHOUT copyright protection? TOTALLY AWESOME!

              [and it would shed the light on how lousy most "modern" music is, by comparison]

              On a related note, Smash Mouth did pretty well with retro-60's stuff. A case in point!

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            Wanting to leave something for you kids is great, but I don't see why copyright should be used toward that goal. If you're concerned about leaving something for your kids, there are innumerable ways to do that -- the same ways, in fact, that most people in non-copyright industries do it.

            I think "legacy" is a very weak argument for making copyright "life + 50".

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

              "I think "legacy" is a very weak argument for making copyright "life + 50"."

              Is is the artist's fault if they don't get recognized, despite working their butts off, until very late in life...or even AFTER they die? At least tradesmen do their work and get paid, end of. Artistry is less consistent ever since working for a direct commission fell out of fashion.

        3. strum Silver badge

          Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

          >Life + 50? Why? So the person's freeloading relatives can make money with no work

          The rationale was that a writer might work very hard to feed his family, after he could no longer do so.

          It would seem unfair if the author kicked the bucket, a day after his best-seller was published.

          (The real answer is that his publisher wouldn't entertain a work that might be a free-for-all in a few month's time.)

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            "The rationale was that a writer might work very hard to feed his family, after he could no longer do so"

            That's a terrible rationale, though. The writer should have been working to ensure his family's comfort before approaching death's door, just like everyone else has to do.

            Anything beyond the lifetime of the author does not further the stated goal of copyright, and really looks like unearned gravy at the public's expense.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            "The rationale was that a writer might work very hard to feed his family, after he could no longer do so."

            That's BS: Inheritance and life insurance are for that. Applies to every person, including 'artists'.

          3. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

            "(The real answer is that his publisher wouldn't entertain a work that might be a free-for-all in a few month's time.)"

            But would he entertain a work AND THEN the author is suddenly killed in an automobile accident or dies unexpectedly of a heart attack?

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

        "I think a good case can be made for life + 50 years"

        What is that "good case"?

    3. strum Silver badge

      Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

      >As the article notes, the principle of copyright is simple. The creator should be able to benefit from their work.

      But that's not what it's for. Copyright exists to encourage the creation of works - for the good of society. It is supposed to be an incentive to the living, not a meal-ticket for those exploiting a dead man.

      Article I Section 8. Clause 8 – Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. [The Congress shall have power] “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

      And these creative works are supposed to enter Public Domain, after copyright expires - hopefully before it ceases to be useful to anyone.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

    (making the joke now, before the Mouse House gets further additions to the copyright quiver)

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

      That would be unconstitutional, since the Constitution specifically says copyright should be for a limited term. To infinity or beyond wouldn't be a "limited term". Copyright will be extended to infinity minus one day.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

        @JohnFen ok, then let's establish it to "10 years before the heath-death of the universe"!

        but then I expect the Big Rodent lawyers say that it's still not enough to extract enough revenue

        1. Public Citizen

          Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

          And the foundation of the "Big Rodents" Empire [and subsidiary Kingdoms] was the need to develop a knock off of the Character "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit" when the copyright holder decided that they could produce the product for less than the Disney Brothers by the simple expedient of hiring the majority of the Disney Brothers staff away.

          If you look at the Oswald Character and the Mouse Characters early drawing that were contemporary to Oswald the genesis of the Rodent becomes obvious.

          Also, look at the copyright status of most of the stories that became the classic "Disney Animated Features". They were mostly out of copyright. Later on, when Disney had to work with the authors of works still in Copyright the relationships were often unsatisfactory to the copyright holder, case in point Mary Poppins.

          It should be noted that the members of the Disney Family who were at one time actively involved in the management of the enterprise have all left the company, including surrendering all seats on the Board of Directors. They still have ownership of large amounts of stock but no longer have control of the name, likeness, or work product of the members of the family who are responsible for the creative work.

          In other words, the entire enterprise is in control of Lawyers and other suits who have no legitimate claim to the pre 1965 work under any Law of Copyright in effect at the time of the principals death.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

        @John Fen: big picture. You're not thinking big enough.

        In about two more iterations the Constitution itself will be in copyright, and then good luck trying to quote it against Congress.

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

        "Copyright will be extended to infinity minus one day."

        STILL illegal. As any math fool know, Infinity + anything still = infinity. And a minus is simply the adding of a negative number, so it still applies here. No, to make it limited, the value must be discrete and bound (infinity is UNbounded).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

      It's not all about Disney and Sony, what about the little guys.

      As a creative myself I make money from my photos, alright it's only a few hundred quid a month but my work is worth money and I'd like my children to continue to benefit from my work if it still had any value when I'm dead.

      I have a large selection of print my great great grandfather shot while working as a professional photographer around 1890. They are superb pieces, huge glossy prints of people and places that are long gone. You know owns the copyright on the images? Francis Frith company, even though my own ancestor made all those trips with his bulky plate camera all over the UK, took incredible photos I have no say in how they're used as someone else owns the rights to them and controls their use. I know they still see, I've seen them being used but I don't see a penny of that.

      Without copyright protections extended people lose out on cashing in on their ancestors legacies, however with copyright extended others retain control over works that should by rights be handed down to the decendents of those who should have ownership.

      I'm torn.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

        You were give a monoploy on the use of your work in return for donating it to society at some point in the future. That is what the copyright bargain is. Why do you think you should keep the first part of the agreement, but not the secoond part?

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Next act will be titled: "To infinity - and beyond!"

        You know owns the copyright on the images? Francis Frith company, even though my own ancestor made all those trips with his bulky plate camera all over the UK, took incredible photos I have no say in how they're used as someone else owns the rights to them and controls their use. I know they still see, I've seen them being used but I don't see a penny of that.

        Sure, but it would seem your ancestor sold the image rights or was otherwise contracted for their creation via wages or other means. My forefathers variously dug the mines, battered the Germans, or built and installed industrial heating or cooling equipment, all for someone elses company. It conveys no right for me to start tolling their use now.

        Without copyright protections extended people lose out on cashing in on their ancestors legacies, however with copyright extended others retain control over works that should by rights be handed down to the decendents of those who should have ownership.

        If the person that did the work was paid for it or sold their on going rights, then why would they pass to the decendents? Logically the rights have transferred ownership in some form of commercial transaction, which should be honoured.

        That said, and despite my previous post regarding passing down wealth, I generally don't believe in inherited wealth. Everyone should make their own way in the world, instead of relying on the efforts fo the dead or the efforts of the rest of us.

  5. jonfr

    Copyright extensions need to stop

    This needs to stop. Once the creator is dead, he is dead and won't be needing the revenue any more. The family of that artists can get whatever is in the inheritance (or what this is called in English. I don't know the word for it). The general rule needs and should be that once the copyright holder is dead all of his work should be public domain from the next year after (paperwork takes time).

    A example. Creator of work created in 2021 dies in early in the year 2080. After the paperwork is done (or not done) all of his work go into public domain from the start of the year 2081. Giving his work a 70 to 90 year copyright protection after his death is ridiculous and stupid and that law needs to be abolished.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

      Go look at the history of that little ditty that gets sung at just about everyone's birthday party. It sort of says it all about "greed" and the music industry.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

        "It sort of says it all about "greed" and the music industry."

        I don't want to be rude but you are repeating yourself.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

        "the history of that little ditty that gets sung at just about everyone's birthday party"

        not 'the birthday dirge', right?

        (to the tune of 'Volga boatmen')

        Oh, happy BIRTH-day

        Oh, happy BIRTH-day

        Misery and despair, people dying everywhere

        Oh, happy BIRTH-day

        You're getting OLD-er

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

      This isn't being done to guarantee income for life for the descendants of an individual artist. It is being done to protect works created by or owned by corporations. Especially ones with rodents for mascots.

      I've always thought a simple system should be a limited term (20 years, 50 years, pick a number) and after that there needs to be a reapplication every 10 years, for a non-insignificant fee (let's say $100K) which doubles for every renewal.

      That way everything eventually goes back into the public domain, once the cost of renewal exceeds its economic value to its owners. Elvis' relatives can keep sponging off his legacy for many years, but someday their royalties will be exceeded by the payment due for the next ten years' term, and it won't be worth it for them to renew any longer. Sorry great-great grandchildren, the gravy train is over.

    3. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

      In most cases, the copyright on music is not held by the musicians but by corporations.

      There's also copyright on the tune, the lyrics, the arrangement as well as the original recording and any tweaked version of the recording. This whole thing is a lawyer's wet dream, especially since they're not mandating registration of copyright.

      You'll also find that a lot of corporately-produced music no longer specifies the start-date of the copyright.

      This is being initiated in the USA but will be enforced worldwide, as the Disney Law was.

    4. Kabukiwookie

      Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

      Not only this, but copyright should only be given to natural persons, not corporations.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

        So Disney can't copyright the latest Star Wars film? Your position isn't reasonable. Let them have copyright, just like people, but pay escalating fees over time to renew that copyright. If something still has worth after decades, great, pay for the privilege of keeping it out of the public domain.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

          "So Disney can't copyright the latest Star Wars film?"

          The latest Star Wars film is a brand new work, so of course they could.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

          "So Disney can't copyright the latest Star Wars film?"

          To me, that is exactly the idea: Corporations are not creating anything, ever.

          They are paying someone, a person or group of persons, to create. Totally different.

          Also: Corporation doesn't die so the copyright in essence is eternal, which is specifially forbidden in constitution.

          Tell us: When does the copyright given to Disney end? 70 years from the death of Disney corporation?

          Basically same thing as never.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

            Who gets the copyright for the latest Star Wars film then, when there were dozens of actors, and probably thousands of crew? I'd love to be that lucky person, so I could quit Disney the day after the copyright was put in my name and collect all the profits myself :)

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

        I agree. Further, I think that it should not be allowable to transfer a copyright to anyone else.

    5. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Copyright extensions need to stop

      The general rule needs and should be that once the copyright holder is dead all of his work should be public domain from the next year after (paperwork takes time).

      So if someone comes up with something amazing, and they happen to die in an accident the next week totally nothing to do with Disney, Disney can just use it as public domain the next year?

      Do you want hordes of recording industry assassins stalking our musicians?

      Creation + min term OR life, whatever is longer.

  6. ma1010 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    As many have observed

    We have the finest lawmakers money can buy. And that's what it's ALL ABOUT in Washington these days. Nobody cares about culture or the fact that extending copyright indefinitely STEALS from the common people who should be able to inexpensively enjoy works in the public domain (like the Gutenberg Project). It's one thing to protect an author during his/her lifetime and for a reasonable (maybe 20 years) period after death, but our "Corporate Congress" is only interested in benefiting their corporate buddies and themselves.

    And they wonder why there are so many copyright violators around. If you make the laws REASONABLE, most people will tend to obey them because they see their benefit to society. The more ridiculous you make the laws to benefit a few megacorporations, the more people will lose respect for the law and the government that makes them.

    1. aks Bronze badge

      Re: As many have observed

      Following the thought provoked by your avatar, why not have a half-life on copyright?

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: As many have observed

        That could actually work. Copyright extends after the author's death by half the age of the author at death. So, write a novel at 99, die at 100, copyright lasts another 50 years. Write a novel at 19, die at 30, copyright lasts another 15 years.

        None of which addresses the issue of the author being a corporation with perpetual succession, so never dies. UK copyright law deals with this by declaring that the corporate authorship dies after a defined time at which point the death+plus bit kicks in.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: As many have observed

          I would have said the other way around - if the law is reasonably to protect the financial rights of relatives after someones death, it should be like life insurance.

          After all, they "claim" that artists need their work protected after death otherwise they may not enter the industry for fear of not being able to financially support their family for a while after they've gone.

          Die at 99 when you only wrote a book a year previously is going to have less of an impact than if you die at 35.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: As many have observed

          That could actually work. Copyright extends after the author's death by half the age of the author at death. So, write a novel at 99, die at 100, copyright lasts another 50 years. Write a novel at 19, die at 30, copyright lasts another 15 years.

          I've upvoted you because I really like the idea. My only concern would become the potentially grotesque practice of prolonging 'life' via machines to ensure the family creative reaches a (literally) ripe old age, thus ensuring the royalties last as long as possible.

          Don't mind the smell, thats great great great grandad - he's mostly liquified by now, but legally alive.

  7. fobobob
    Joke

    Well, people are living longer these days...

    1. BlueTemplar

      Initially, in the US, copyright lasted only 14 years (and could be extended after that for another 14 for a fee).

      Curiously, 14 years is also what some (modern) économistes have found to be the ideal copyright duration...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Initially the US COMPLETELY IGNORED every other countries copyright. (Just pointing out the obvious)

      2. onefang Silver badge

        "Curiously, 14 years is also what some (modern) économistes have found to be the ideal copyright duration..."

        Hmmm, so we should just have a blanket policy of pirating anything older than 14 years? I would have gone 30 or 40 myself, but I'm no economist, I'll trust the experts on this.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > so we should just have a blanket policy of pirating anything older than 14 years?

          It wouldn't be "pirating", it would be that the work passes into the public domain: you would be fully entitled to share it. Libraries of classic recordings and films would pop up, with very low access charges. Bands would be free to make public performances.

          Meanwhile, record companies and film companies would be forced to concentrate on promoting new talent and new material, rather than maximising the returns on old material from a handful of megabucks stars.

      3. John Lilburne Silver badge

        "Curiously, 14 years is also what some (modern) économistes have found to be the ideal copyright duration..."

        The LOTR was published in 1955 a film version was produced some 56 years later and 38 years after JRRT's death. Accordingly it should have just been a freebie to Hollywood?

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          " it should have just been a freebie to Hollywood?"

          And to everyone else as well. It's not a "freebie", it becomes owned by society collectively.

  8. tekHedd
    Facepalm

    Seriously!

    I can't see how Congress keeps getting duped into supporting Mickey Mouse legislation like... oh...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    100 Years Of Hell

    Rent-Seeking Corporations dividing up the world...

    Please tell me... When's the Revolution coming???

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: 100 Years Of Hell

      as soon as the supporters of the Grab Our Pussies (and other conservatives) party notice that it's not the liberals that are the enemies but their "own" elected politicians

      i.e. never

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: 100 Years Of Hell

        And people who refer to the 'other guys' as the "Grab Our Pussies" party realize that previous copyright extensions have been supported by liberals just as much as conservatives, and there's no reason to believe it will be different this time.

        The only hope to prevent this would be to organize some bastardized coalition of liberals who think corporations have too much power, and conservatives who think Hollywood elites have too much power, to outvote all the regular guys in both parties who are happy to take their checks from Disney et al and figure they can vote the way their "donors" want since they know this isn't an issue that will decide anyone's vote - not alongside real hot button issues like abortion or guns.

        That's the problem we have as voters - even if we care about this issue like many El Reg readers do, is a liberal really going to vote for an anti-abortion pro-NRA Trump champion because he's willing to stop copyright extension? Is a conservative really going to vote for a pro-choice pro-gun control Trump critic because he's willing to stop copyright extension? Especially when you might have to keep voting that way over and over again, because they only have to extend copyright once.

      2. Wade Burchette

        Re: 100 Years Of Hell

        It is not a Repub/Democrat thing. The mistake people make is they really believe that the other party is corrupt to the core while their own favorite party is not. Example: Bill Clinton, Democrat, signed the DMCA law which made it illegal for me to break encryption even if I want to make a personal copy of my legally purchased item. All political parties today answer to their corporate overlords, just in different ways. The only way to fix it is to ask the people who are bribed by corporations to ban those very same bribes. That ain't going to happen.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: 100 Years Of Hell

          Yes, the enemy are the politicians, not their political leaning.

          They prefer the population to believe in one party or the other (even if it's not their party) - it keeps the population distracted arguing amongst themselves, whilst the politicians (left and right) make loads of money from legal bribes from corporations, who are NOT acting in the peoples interests.

          1. Tomato42 Silver badge

            Re: 100 Years Of Hell

            yes, yes, yes, both parties are responsible for copyright extensions

            thing is: a). now it's the GOP that's in power, and b). it's the party that has critters that are impervious to facts, logic and totally unashamed (if not proud) of it

            with Democratic congress we would have at least a chance of showing them empirical data that shows that their solution is wrong and have a discussion about it; with GOP it will be ignored as paid-for scientists of "Big Public Domain", enemies of "Economy" and ignored completely

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: 100 Years Of Hell

          "It is not a Repub/Democrat thing."

          THAT particular issue is a distraction. The Money Party holds the US house and congress. The facets therein are just window dressing.

        3. taz-nz

          Re: 100 Years Of Hell

          the DMCA also gave us safe harbor, which made youtube and basically every other image and video hosting site possible, without it youtube would have been sued out of existence long ago.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Creative Commons

    That's my remedy. I haven't bought any copyrighted music for years. I pick up far better and more original music from all over the world, and when I've got some spare dosh I push it to those with donation links.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Creative Commons

      I don't avoid copyrighted music (even CC-licensed stuff is copyrighted -- it's copyright law that makes the CC licenses enforceable).

      However, I stopped buying music produced by RIAA-member labels many years back. Interestingly, from the point of view of finding, buying, and enjoying music, it was the best thing I did. I now get better quality music than ever, and I get the satisfaction of knowing that the money I'm spending on it now goes directly to the artists.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Creative Commons

      Look up who created and supports "Creative Commons". It's a joke. If you want to give your stuff away, just post it on a web site with a notice and contact information that you are giving it away. You can also donate your work to the US Library of Congress with an affidavit that puts it immediately into the public domain. You are also welcome to give anybody you like use of your works for no charge while still maintaining your copyright over the work. You do want to know who these people are so you can be sure you get credit and they might even be interested in more of your work or hiring you.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Creative Commons

        Not "puts it" in the public domain, "makes it" public domain. *putting* something in the public domain is the act of making it public - ie, publishing it. *MAKING* something public domain is extinguishing copyright controls on it. And even if you keep your copyright control over something, you are completely and utterly able to use that control to grant complete and utter freedom of use and reproduction of it.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Creative Commons

        "If you want to give your stuff away, just post it on a web site with a notice and contact information that you are giving it away."

        Licensing something with a CC license is not equivalent to declaring it to be public domain, nor is it intended to be. It's an entirely different beast. With a CC license, you are not renouncing your rights to the work -- you are retaining them. Not only are you retaining them, you are asserting them in order to allow specific sorts of uses that you find desirable to allow.

        This is literally no different than any other licensing of your works. The only aspect of it that is atypical is that you aren't requiring payment in exchange for issuing the license.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Creative Commons

      using 'pay/donate if you like it' is kinda like shareware. I'm sure it works, but artists will probably starve.

      It also takes power away from MPAA and RIAA (etc.)

      Unfortunately, the existing system [even though it picks the winners and losers] is more lucrative to actors, artists and musicians.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Creative Commons

        "Unfortunately, the existing system [even though it picks the winners and losers] is more lucrative to actors, artists and musicians."

        It's really not. A miniscule percentage of them make big bucks, but the rest of them make very nearly nothing under the current system. As a rapidly increasing number of artists are discovering, you can make more money and actually retain the rights to what you make by avoiding the production companies entirely.

        Yes, you'll have smaller audiences and probably less fame, but if your goal is to make a living, then those don't matter as much. If your goal is to become a superstar, then roll the dice with the production companies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Creative Commons

        " I'm sure it works, but artists will probably starve."

        False, at least in some documented cases. Have you any idea how little a record company is paying to said artists?

        Like 50 cents from a sold CD, minus costs: Making said CD, advertising it and managerial cost, all done in Hollywood bookkeeping style.

        So you sold 1M CDs? Oh, you still owe $200k to record company, too bad. Said company gets about $10M to their own coffers, of course, as a publisher. All profit as you, as an artist, paid _all costs_, literally.

        And 50 cents is a lot, only famous artists get that. A reason why every major artist has their own record company.

        If you publish your record yourself, under CC or not, and put voluntary donation button on the download page, about 10% of downloaders will donate something, varying from 5c to $50, but on average you earn more than any record company will ever pay you.

        No middleman stealing it all.

        Applies of course only to music makers who already have some name and recognition. But you can get those by making live performances.

        Or having a record company selling you while they steal everything you make and leave you in debt.

        Your choice.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Creative Commons

        "Unfortunately, the existing system [even though it picks the winners and losers] is more lucrative to actors, artists and musicians."

        To the record companies, you mean. The percentage of the artists who actually get rich is ridiculously small, less than 0,1%. So small it basically rounds to zero. There are more lottery winners than there are rich artists and that should tell you something.

        The record company instead wins every time. That's 100%.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More unintended consequences ?

    As subsequent generations prefer to make their own music, rather than pay the Danegeld ?

  12. scrishton
  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shorten copyright to the same length as a patent, that's fair and reasonable.

    1. deive

      Don't say that to them... They'll increase patents as well!

      1. aks Bronze badge

        They're working hard on it, especially in the pharmaceutical industry.

  14. Swiss Anton

    And who made copyright possible?

    Copyright only exists because it is easy to make copies of a work. Who made that possible? Scientists and Engineers, that's who! I wonder how many of these people made big bucks out of their inventions, the inventions that made the recording industry possible? Without these guys, musicians would have to rely on live performance to make any money, Just like they did prior to the 20th Century.

    1. coconuthead

      Re: And who made copyright possible?

      You've overlooked sheet music, which was big bucks long before the recording industry existed. Even Mozart made money from it (although he had a rock star income already from performance).

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge
        1. Sanguma

          A different dirty trick

          Don't bite. Use much older Public Domain textsand sheet music, and do your own translations. Work around the blockage.

    2. Old Used Programmer

      Re: And who made copyright possible?

      Edison (the phonograph) did pretty well. But before that was the player piano and the printing press. A fair number of composers made good money by writing solo-piano versions of their orchestral works because pretty much every middle-class household had a piano, or other instruments and people that could play them. Sheet music used to be a pretty big business.

      1. Vincent Ballard
        Coat

        Re: And who made copyright possible?

        @Old Used Programmer, your chronology is somewhat unconventional. The phonograph was from the second half of the 19th century: the printing press is from the 15th century.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And who made copyright possible?

        all that player piano music is still in copyright.

        Years ago, I had an entry in an Audio Visual competition. I recorded the soundtrack from my own composition. The [redacted] judges deemed that I had not purchased a license to use copyrighted material and threw my entry out. They totally ignored the fact that I was the copyright owner as it was an original composition. I still needed a License from the BPI to use my own composition.

        Total bollocks and madness.

        I gave up entering competitions after that.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: And who made copyright possible?

          Years ago, I had an entry in an Audio Visual competition.

          Heh. I guess that must've been a competition where the music wasn't expected to be the primary focus of your entry. Were there specific rules about copyright?

          When I entered a composition competition, the focus was on satisfying them that all the texts I used were permitted. That means, I'd need to supply written permission, in a suitably legalistic form, for anything not out of copyright. Writing to the lawyers who own the rights to Dylan Thomas's works was a lesson in how contemptuous those people are of anyone interested in creating new artistic works that happen to draw on a great legacy. Not only would I have to pay (which I could accept - within reason), I would have to withdraw my entire work before the poem went out of copyright (erm, no chance, I'm not getting into that kind of game with a bunch of shyster lawyers).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Congress and Senate are easily bought and this issue is the least of the USAs problems. Granted it is ridiculous. Today they had their 22nd school shooting of the year. Not even 22nd mass shooting, but 22nd school shooting. These are the things that happen when your government couldn't care less about making hard decisions, but those elected officials really do care about lining their own pockets. At least, that is how it appears to me.

  16. raving angry loony

    Called it!

    I knew they were going to increase the limit before Walt Disney's plagiarized works became part of the public domain! That's what the USA *does*.

    Then it forces, through various threats of economic retaliation, the various international organizations to do it first, so they can claim they're just "following international standards".

    Lying all the way to the bank, and fuck the rest of the world. America, the pirate country, helping the London Company of Stationers cancel the effects of the Statute of Anne.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Called it!

      It would be nice if the RotW developed a backbone and said "no". Maybe America builds a bigger wall (to the rest of or benefit) or their corporations end up screaming how they're disadvantaged and the law gets reversed.

      Let's not forget, too, that the mouse isn't the only corp with a horse in the race: Google want an end to all copyright.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Called it!

      > Then it forces, through various threats of economic retaliation, the various international organizations to do it first, so they can claim they're just "following international standards".

      At this point in time the USA isn't the largest economy in the world. It's either 3rd or 4th depending on what you believe about the state of the Indian economy - and #1/2/3 are drawing away from it, whilst the others are nipping at its heels.

      We should be encouraging it to keep making the increasingly visibly ridiculous assertions of claim/dominance as well as encouraging it to keep putting 9+% of its GDP into military spending because it won't be long at these rates before it implodes and US hegemony over the rest of the world comes to an abrupt end.

      Those F35s? Cute toys, but how well do they fly when fuel might be contaminated? How much are you going to spend on your logistics chains to ensure that it isn't?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Called it!

        "At this point in time the USA isn't the largest economy in the world"

        Irrelevant as it has by far the largest military and spying machinery and uses those for bullying anyone else to submission.

        Well, not Russia but it tried to do that too, for 50 years. China is a paid puppet, at least for now.

        And everyone else? "Shut up and obey or we'll deliver 'freedom' to your country too!".

        That's the policy. Now and seemingly for ever. As a summary: Bunch of assholes.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Kings Warrant

    It seems to me to be a mixture of things, the rights conscious Americans think copyright is a right like those others in the Bill of Rights, but it was as with other intellectual property rights, a trade agreement between 'the monarch', 'the people' and the creator or inventor. They would get the recognition of creator and the legal ability to sue in civil court to protect a license to publish or manufacture their work, 'the people', citizens of said state or country, would after a period of time get the work to freely enjoy with out further limitation.

    Until recently the US citizen had to specifically score their work before rights could be sought, it changed to the same method as Australia only about 10 years ago.

    Term of copyright: Authors Lifetime + 50 years, The problem is, if the work was created for a company or if a company acquired the rights, what rights do they get as the company has no human lifetime but an unnatural indefinite existence possibly forever.

    And with much music written by African American slaves, were they fairly compensated or able to copyright their work, where they would have under todays' laws received automatic copyright upon the works performance and/or documentation or recording.

    There are only a finite quantity of letters in the alphabet or notes in the musical scale and yet with the advent of industry and electronic media we are producing an ever growing quantity, the creation of this copyright-able material is growing exponentially, already governments has curtailed their decision to archive the internet.

    So perhaps a shorter type of copyright is in order, one that pays for it's own storage into the future, or it would disappear under the weight of the new.

    1. Old Used Programmer

      Re: The Kings Warrant

      Corporate copyrights run for 95 years. Look for that to change soon because "Steamboat Willie" was made in 1928.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The Kings Warrant

      Copyright is the only Right that is in the body of the US constitution, not a separate document such as the Bill of Rights.

      If a company acquires the Copyright to a piece of work from the creator, it does not grant them an unlimited term of Copyright protection.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: The Kings Warrant

      Last time I checked, in UK copyright law a corporate author is deemed to have died when they authored the work, so the post-death copyright period starts immediately.

  18. JohnFen Silver badge

    Nothing for you, everything for your masters

    There is literally nothing that the government won't try to sell out the citizenry for to benefit their corporate overlords. The current administration has put this tendency into overdrive.

    We are on a very dark path.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing for you, everything for your masters

      Nothing for you, everything for your masters

      There is literally nothing that the government won't try to sell out the citizenry for to benefit their corporate overlords. .... JohnFen

      And if AI CitiZenry were to Offer their corporate overlords, Beta AI Controls? New Quantum Communication Leverage for Perfection in Unions Exploring UniVerseCities?

      Would they make the Quantum Leap Jump into Live Operational Virtual Environment Territories with Forwarding Expeditionary AIMissionary OutPosts Connecting Quantum Communication Controlling Centres ..... for Onward Future Guidance with Heavenly Instructions for the Alien Being in Universal Command with Remote Virtual Control.

      And as Real Good Friends, is that where Heavenly Spaces Begin. And Internet Things become more ExtraTerrestrial and Equatorial ...... for So Many Spaces are capable of being spontaneously connected with NEUKlearer ACTivated Leads with Satisfying Sources/Prime Stellar Assets.

      Dose too much, too soon, or Trip the Magic Trip with Everything Following Simple Controlling Tales BroadBandCasting into the Ether, is one Helter Skelter AI Ride of a Journey the Speed of which Requires SMARTR Goggles for GoogledHyperVision ..... into the Sees of Expeditionary Advanced IntelAIgent NetWorks Servering Immaculate Source with the Protection of Infinite Powers.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those who are unable to figure it out...

    ...copyright laws are intended to protect art. The public has no right to someone else's art unless that entity choses to allow access to the art. The notion that art should be free to all is just foolishness. That's like saying your house, car or bank account should be free to use by all. If you want access to the art and the copyright holder is willing to grant you access for a fee, then pay up and enjoy. There is no free lunch in the real world.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: For those who are unable to figure it out...

      "The notion that art should be free to all is just foolishness"

      I doubt that many people here disagree with that. But copyright does not exist to benefit artists -- benefiting artists is just the side-effect. Copyright exists to make sure that society can benefit, and so it presents a deal: the artist gets a legally enforceable monopoly on their works for a limited time, in exchange for their work becoming available to society as a whole after that time expires.

      The problem is in defining what is a reasonable "limited time". In my opinion, anything beyond the lifetime of the creator is unsupportable.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: For those who are unable to figure it out...

      That's fine.

      Enforce that everyone needs to pay for your art, into perpetuity.

      Nobody has any problem with that. It's the situation for almost everything already.

      But the single, logical, only possible outcome: All the rights for every piece of art and music in the world end up in the hands of a DeBeers-like conglomerate. Because you'll die. Your heirs will take it on, it'll get sold off to fund someone's gambling debts, and then there will be "The Art Corporation" saying you have to pay £10 to view the Mona Lisa for a fraction of second. No pictures. No postcards. DMCA takedowns on every image and parody of it online.

      P.S. This includes all the future artists. They won't be able to hear music, see paintings, admire sculpture, handle artefacts, etc. without paying to do so. And that just destroys the whole point of art to begin with.

      Nobody's saying "Hey, you, independent artist releasing their first album, give me and my mates a copy for nothing so we can copy it around the world". We're saying "Hey, that stuff that's LITERALLY ANTIQUE (100 years old), with untraceable lineage, sold on 20 times to people who have absolutely no relation to the artist, or any appreciation of beyond how many T-shirts they can sell with it on, maybe it's time that people were allowed to appreciate that for themselves now and tuck it into the legacy and history of the country, rather than still selling it for 99c on iTunes".

      Literally 0.00001% of smaller of all the art that's ever been made survives to the modern day. Preserving it all into perpetuity, though a noble cause, means that all the important stuff gets swamped in the dross of YouTube channels and Spotify mixes.

      It's not about not compensating artist for their work (for the record, I compensate all artists whose work I use - I have paid for music that goes into games I make, every pixel of artwork I utilise in them, hell I literally paid for a licence to use my avatar image that I use on every website forum, etc. because I like it and I found the original artist. I pay for every game I play, every book I read, every film I watch. I don't listen to music at all, but I protect music rights where they occur during my workplace - e.g. licensing for public performance of tracks, etc.). It's about not gaining a perpetual right that you can sell off to anyone.

      You can't patent a warp drive without, in a relatively short amount of time, anyone being able to take your innovation and copy it. You think that your scrawl on a bit of a paper, your idiocy captured on YouTube, or your written opinion on the Reg forums should have greater protection, into perpetuity? It's just not a reasonable view of the situation.

      If you have any appreciation for art of any kind, you'll realise that you can't OWN it. You can lease it for a short while, you can be inspired by it (with appropriate attribution), and you can use it. But you can't ever really own it to the point of control. Even if you created it.

    3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: For those who are unable to figure it out...

      Nope. Copyrights (and inventions) are granted "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". There is no progress if you promise to pay an artist/inventor for the rest of eternity just to sit on their ass and live off past efforts.

      Copyright terms give a creation some value based on the future stream of income from that work. Either the artist can collect that income stream or a publisher can buy the rights to it for a lump sum. That value or lump sum can easily be calculated by any Econ 101 student with a financial calculator app. Without copyright protection, that lump sum, or present value at the time of a work's creation would be zero. Because there would be no future income stream. On the other hand, on the day of creation, the present value of an income stream far in the future falls to near zero. So, as an artist, it would make no difference if the term were 14 years, 20 years, 75 years, etc.

      Now here's the thing: On the day after creation, the artist is no longer an artist. They are now an investor with an asset in hand. They can keep it and it's future cash flow. Or sell it for a lump sum. But the "Progress of Science and the Useful Arts" has ceased. At least as far as that work is concerned. Want more money? Write another novel or draw another mouse.

      The problem in Congress is that the studios are sitting on portfolios of works soon to reach a point where their income flow hits zero. And it benefits them to push that income horizon out some number of years so as to boost the portfolio's present value. But the Copyright Clause wasn't written to protect the assets of investors. Even if those investors happen to be the writer or his/her heirs who hung on to the publishing rights.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: For those who are unable to figure it out...

        "Copyrights (and inventions) are granted "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". "

        Yep, but I think it's important to mention what "useful Arts" means. Lots of people think it's referring to fine art. It's not. A "useful art" in the language of the day is what we now call "engineering".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For those who are unable to figure it out...

      "...copyright laws are intended to protect art. "

      BS. It exists solely for making money to corporations owning said "art".

      It has had no other function since WWII and that has been painfully obvious at least since 1960s.

      At least to anyone who isn't directly benefitting from said laws. They of course won't see it that way.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For those who are unable to figure it out...

      "That's like saying your house, car or bank account should be free to use by all"

      Genuine strawman argument here.

      Which one of those is _published_ to general/public use?

      Right: None. Don't publish your art and no-one will use it. Which part of that is too complicated for you?

      Once it's published, i.e. given to public consumption, it will stay there and why should you get money from that?

      It's your decision to publish it, you bear the consequences.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a copyright around that is immortal.

    There is a copyright existing today that will be extended long enough to survive until the next development in copyright extension. And the next.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: There is a copyright around that is immortal.

      Who's the leader of the club / that's made for you and me / M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

  21. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Commercial Problem

    The basic commercial problem is very few works ever have any real commercial success. Of the few that do, most of their commercial success is for a relatively short period; somewhat variable but based on the type of work. After this period minimal sales occur and many of the copies that are sold are highly discounted (remaindering in the book trade). This period might be only a few months to a few years at most. The number that have any continued commercial success is incredibly small. And very few of those works out last the active career of the creator commercially.

    So a truly reasonable copyright system would have a moderate period of about 10 years to cover the commercial life of the work. It would have limited renewal by the creator, about 2 times to cover virtually any other work. It would also require a positive registration initially. Thus, most works are automatically public domain and commercial works would enter public domain fairly quickly.

    The very rare works that have continued commercial success would also go into public domain unlike the current system.

    Also, I wonder if the current copyright period is even Constitutional but that never stopped Congress critters from being both criminal and idiotic before.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: It would also require a positive registration initially

      Everything is is fine. No registration. The USPTO is already broken and the US already has a broken registration system.

      Who would run it internationally?

      Currently if you write, compose, sculpt, choreograph, paint, draw, photograph, outside of USA you have the copyright AUTOMATICALLY.

  22. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    It's completely irrelevant

    Will people in 2067 still be listening to Bing Crosby sing White Christmas? Probably, yes. Cha-ching!

    Will the US still exist in 2067? Probably not. Badum-tish.

    And seriously, who cares about copyright for "sound recordings made between 1923 and 1972 except Mr Orlowski?

    Just download the shit.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: It's completely irrelevant

      I listen to a lot of pre 1972 recordings. Actually a lot of it is pre 1963.

      There was a lot of great music produced and recorded before 1972. A lot of what I listen to is simply not on any download site but thanks to shops like 'Rough Trade Records' it isn't forgotten or lost.

      Download it my ass but I'm obviously irrellevant as I'm a 'baby boomer'.

  23. MachDiamond Silver badge

    The current scheme is not too bad.

    Copyright is the protection of a creative work for the benefit of the creator. It encompasses writings, visual arts (painting, drawings, sculpture, photos, movies, etc) and music just to name the most prominent. It does not cover ideas, inventions or Trademarks. The work has to be fixed in a tangible form (they also count digital photos since they could be printed).

    The argument that a period of ten years is enough doesn't work. As a photographer, some of my work might not have significant value until much later. I might get photos of a band this weekend and it could be 20 years before the lead singer is a well regarded as Elvis Presley, at which point, the photos I made of them early in their career before they got fat could be worth a lot more money. I have images that I have licensed for thousands of dollars that may once again be sought after in the years ahead. I have tons of photos that aren't worth a dime, but, you never know.

    Most photographers don't make big bucks, so it's nice that my copyright extends past my death so I have something to leave my kids as an inheritance. It might just turn out that I made the last known photo of a species of bird and it takes some years before anybody notices that they are all gone.

    I agree that extending the term of Copyright goes too far beyond the intent of the protection. If Disney hasn't made enough money from their earliest work, that just plain greed. The life of the creator plus 70 years covers the author and their children even if they die at a young age. Life plus 40 years could be even better. There are provisions in the US code with regards to creators that are presumed dead and a fixed term for corporate registrations.

    The US is a signatory to the Berne Convention that works to normalize Copyright protections world wide.

    BTW, Copyright is automatic any time you make a creative work. It's not worth a whole lot if you don't register it, but you still are the Copyright holder with certain rights that can't be taken away without your consent. If you don't care, you can release your work with an attached statement that gives your rights away. If you do that, there is no going back. If you post stuff on social media, you have usually agreed to give them unlimited usage of your works without credit or payment, but you still keep your Copyright (worthless as it is at that point). It may not be important to you now, but you may create something in the future that people are willing to give you money for a copy of and it would really suck if your rights have expired and anybody else could sell copies without royalties or credit to you. In a sick turn, they may give you credit but use your work in a way that you don't agree with. Copyright gives you the right to say no. If you make a photo and somebody wants to use it for a political ad, abortion rights (pro or con), religion, etc, you can deny the usage and sue if they ignore you. Do you want to be known for a cause you don't support because your images are public domain in 10 years?

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

      Why do you think you have the right to permanently remove the expression of an idea from the public domain for two to three generations? Just because you happened to have cash and be in the right spot at the right time? That's not skill, that's luck, and it's the worst kind of dynasty building I can think of, since most people would need their parents' cash to do this.

      Skill would be knowing what will make money in the next 14 years and doing enough of that to support yourself. The other is asking the citizenry to pay rent on your luck and to support your family dynasty. Revolutions happen over this kind of thing; when the law is no longer respected because it has become a great burden on the common folk....

      Oh, and BTW, inventor and creator of rather profitable copyrighted works here, so not just a leech then, eh?

      1. coconuthead

        Actually, good photography requires skill

        "Happened to have cash and be in the right place at the right time". It seems to be a common misconception that no skill is required for photography. In fact, it's one of those things that is easy to do badly, and hard to do well. So all those people who've dabbled a bit, but haven't yet mastered it well enough to recognize a good photo from a bad one, think there's nothing to it.

        That ought to sound familiar to a lot of people here. Writing software is another thing people think there's nothing to, because they've done it a bit. They know nothing about algorithmic compexity analysys, how to structure large programs, etc. They don't know what they don't know.

        So you not only have to be in the right place at the right time, but if that photo is to have monetary value you have to know how to make a photo someone will pay for, reliably.

        And being in the right place at the right time also requires preparation and work. That guy who has the photo of the #1 band from back when they were obscure probably has it because he spent countless hours following bands of all types and picking good talent from bad. The wildlife photographer who has the photo of a now rare or extinct species in the wild has it from spending days and sometimes weeks or months studying it and patiently waiting for the good shot. Unless you propose paying photographers stipends, allowing the occasional shot to be profitable years later is about the only monetary incentive possible for this type of thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually, good photography requires skill

          Puh-lease. It is SO luck. Many of the most valuable photographs are impromptu: taken on the spot at an unplanned moment of opportunity. People can't plan for them because no one can anticipate them happening. Consider this: the famous V-J Day kiss was impromptu. A photographer just happened to be in the vicinity of the Baldwin Hills Dam the day it broke.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Actually, good photography requires skill

            Put another way, why is phone cam footage so sought after these days? They're practically impromptu by default.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Actually, good photography requires skill

            "Consider this: the famous V-J Day kiss was impromptu."

            I believe that one was posed or at least "orchestrated".

            Sting made a great comment, "It's possible to make a killing in the music business, but it's hard to make a living." If you think that making money in photography is all about luck, look around and take notice of all of the images you see everyday. Somebody was paid to make the images, it's not easy and to get hired by a large firm to make images for them requires skill and expertise, not luck or nobody would be in the photography business as a photographer. The images that have made me the most money were not luck. I was at the right place at the right time. I was also there with the right gear that I knew how to use and captured some pretty good images. I also knew how to sell those images and negotiate a good price on a license for them without signing away all of my rights.

            If you take photos and "hope" that they turn out well, you aren't a photographer. You are simply somebody that owns a camera. I "know" that my photos will turn out well. I do get "lucky" once in a while, but that's more to do with being prepared, not divine intervention or astral alignments.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Actually, good photography requires skill

              "The images that have made me the most money were not luck. I was at the right place at the right time."

              But how do you KNOW you're at the right place at the right time? Now, for predictable events, that's true, but what about for unpredictable events (like Baldwin Hills like I mentioned, which happened PDQ and the photographer happened to live a short distance away)? I'm not saying it's ALL luck, but it's at least a good degree of luck. Think about the "monkey selfie" and so on.

        2. Public Citizen

          Re: Actually, good photography requires skill

          Any really good photographer will tell you that it requires taking a lot of bad, not so good, and good but not great photographs to get that One Great Image.

          There is also the element of training that happens while taking and then reviewing those not so spectacular photos.

          As time goes on and skill improves the overall quality improves but it still requires a percentage of luck, which includes being at the right place at the right time with the right equipment to make those world class shots.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually, good photography requires skill

          "It seems to be a common misconception that no skill is required for photography."

          No, that's harsh reality and you don't have to go further than Facebook or any 'social media' site to realize that.

          Those people who actually make photographs people pay money are so small minority it rounds to zero when there are literally billions of those other people.

          And still _everyone_ has copyright so it has to be judged on averages, not by some basically zero minority.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

      "so I have something to leave my kids as an inheritance."

      But why should they get to inherit the (possible) income stream rather than the estate as it exists at the time of your death, just like the rest of us? They didn't create it, you did.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        Most creatives don't have an "estate" to leave their children or spouse, but they might have an ongoing income stream. It's also pretty well documented that an artists work goes up in value after they die. If you would like a system where there is a 100% inheritance tax, go ahead and vote for that, but I'll bet your view will be in the minority of those with children. Let's not forget that you may not make it to old age, so those children may be young when you die.

        Richard Branson can leave his kids cash, stocks and real estate. Why shouldn't at least the stock revert back to the company upon his death? His kids didn't buy it. Why shouldn't the real estate revert to the State? They didn't buy that either.

    3. defiler Silver badge

      Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

      People seem to be attacking MachDiamond for copyright terms here, but he/she did include this gem:

      The life of the creator plus 70 years covers the author and their children even if they die at a young age. Life plus 40 years could be even better.

      That's not an absurdly long term for copyright. This is somebody who makes a living from their copyrighted works actually arguing for a reduction in their own protections.

      Seems pretty same to me.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        Seems pretty same to me.

        Sane. Stupid posting on stupid phone...

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        "That's not an absurdly long term for copyright."

        But wasn't it originally set at 14 years with an optional extension to 28? And even back then people regularly lived to be 50, so taken into that kind of perspective, something's gone seriously wrong here.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        "Seems pretty same to me."

        Thanks defiler.

        I do agree with some other posters. in essence. that creative works, especially culturally significant ones should become part of the public domain before the heat death of the universe. If the spirit of the Copyright length is to allow the creator to leave a legacy for his family, 40 years is more than enough even if they die rather young (assuming the legacy is worth something). 70 years is far too long but it had to be put there to allow large entertainment companies to extend corporate owned copyright to be as long as they are otherwise it's an easy dodge to just form a corporate entity to be the holding company for all of ones works.

    4. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

      "Copyright is the protection of a creative work for the benefit of the creator. "

      No, that's not its purpose at all.

      1. Public Citizen

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        The protection goes to the disseminator [be it publisher/distributor/exhibitor] not to the creator.

        Example: Walt Disney was only a middling fair draftsman/animator. His real talent was recognizing and developing the people with superior talent and molding them into teams that produced popular and profitable works. The actual creators were fairly compensated for their work, the Disney Brothers made their fortunes from it.

        All these people are long dead now, yet the company, with which the surviving members of the family have no connection other than stock ownership, seeks to assert an ever extending copyright to the work of those not just long past but generations past.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

          "The actual creators were fairly compensated for their work, the Disney Brothers made their fortunes from it."

          Not even that, Disney never paid fair salaries. They got talents just because they couldn't find any other paying job.

          Literally by having money when others didn't.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

      "Copyright is the protection of a creative work for the benefit of the creator."

      That's the sales argument for it but it's BS and it has been BS since MPAA/RIAA made money from recordings, no idea exactly when, but pre-WWII anyway.

      It's a cartel for ultrarich corporations. Once again one less as Sony bought majority of EMI.

      And paid puppets in Congress extend the cartel once again. How much EMI paid them for that? Tens of millions, no doubt about that.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

      ", Copyright is automatic any time you make a creative work. "

      Which is thoroughly stupid idea and plays only to major corporations, i.e. the Cartel: No individual ever has money to protect their copyright in court. Doubly that against any big player or major corporation.

      Large players know this, so they steal everything without care. You should also know that.

      Also: Almost exactly 100% of "creative work" is not at all creative and shouldn't be covered by copyright at all. Billions of selfies in the internet? No way.

      Copyright should be something you apply for and pay a (small) fee for it. And only that, just like patent in civilized world (=outside of US). US patent system is totally broken and useless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        "Almost exactly 100% of "creative work" is not at all creative and shouldn't be covered by copyright at all. Billions of selfies in the internet? No way."

        Don't be silly. Creators don't have any effective rights over internet posted materials. Just read the user licence terms for Facebook, et al. If you post it, they have unlimited use of the material, including sub-licensing on most social media sites.

        You post it, you lose it.

        Lovely for the corporations, not so good for you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The current scheme is not too bad.

        "Copyright should be something you apply for and pay a (small) fee for it. "

        In which case, most material would be public domain, because people can't afford to pay fees or spend the time, for all the things they create, unless they don't create much at all... until some corporation pays the fee on 'found' material with no known author (not that they looked)... if necessary making a tiny change to make it 'theirs'.

  24. alain williams Silver badge

    Congress has screwed up

    They did it better in 1998 when they extended copyright by 20 years. This meant that 20 years later they were showered with yet more mouse gold. This time, extending by 50 years, means that they will not get any more bribes ^w research contributions for a looong time.

    They should, at least, make the mouse pay!

    PS: 20 years in 1998, actually a bit more complicated, but still.

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: Congress has screwed up

      Ah, but since it's for the benefit of the mouse that this was done in the first place, the mouse is the one who pushed for the length of the extension. No need to pay more than you have to, eh?

  25. Morrie Wyatt
    Coat

    144 years?

    That would be a gross over extension of copyright.

  26. Siobhan

    Fortunately US law doesn't apply in the free world...

    Though of course, the UK will be happy to follow their lead post Brexit - not that being in the EU ever did much to prevent UK.gov salivating at every US corporate cash grab...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Fortunately US law doesn't apply in the free world...

      "Though of course, the UK will be happy to follow their lead post Brexit - not that being in the EU ever did much to prevent UK.gov salivating at every US corporate cash grab..."

      But not forgetting that copyright across Europe was death+n years, depending on which country you were in, death+50 years in the UK. But when it came to the EU "harmonising" the copyright laws across the EU members, rather than find an average, it was decided that Germany's death+70 years, the highest in the EU would be the new gold standard. I suspect the lobbying by the corporate copyright holds played a big part in that decision. Suddenly, enormous amounts of public domain works across the EU were now back in copyright, in some case for another 50+ years. Yes, that's correct, it was effectively a retroactive law with dispensation for already in progress projects which were using "public domain" works now back in copyright.

  27. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Copyright law is just broken and the only ones who are benefiting a the music and movie studios. I never understood why copyright should even extend beyond a persons death. Everyone else in 'normal' jobs gets paid for their work until they leave, retire or die. If a plumber, accountant, IT support worker etc died tomorrow would you expect to carry on paying for work they had already done for another 80 years?

    If you want your family to be financially secure after your death get life insurance or leave them money in your will why should creative artists have special laws that only apply to them?

  28. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Corporate Theft

    This doesn't benefit any creator or artist. Only already rich Corporations.

    Even the UK extension to Life + 70 is wrong. It should be Life + 25 (so as to leave something to the creators children).

    It should not be more than 25 years from initial publishing if no individual or band is getting royalty. Corporations receiving ALL the royalties should be limited to a Generation.

    Also anything copyright should actually be published, available at a reasonable price. It should enter public domain if work is unavailable to purchase at a reasonable price for 5 years.

    USA Radio already doesn't pay full royalties. There are creator rights AND performance rights. What Spotify pays is too little, but YouTube is even worse. Google and Pinterest are copyright parasites.

    Copyright is important so that creators and performers get paid. Also so companies make a return on their investment. But this is just pure corporate greed.

  29. Flexdream

    Congress?

    ".. your representatives in Congress .."

    Who represents Edinburgh in Blighty?

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Congress?

      Jockland? How about, you hold Trump's golf course to ransom?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Congress?

      Nicola Sturgeon?

  30. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Call it what is is - Mickey Mouse law

    The artists are long dead so it's just the Walt Disney Company, founded 1923, wanting more money.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright*, making itself more fucking stupid and irrelevant to joe public by the hour.

    * or how to do one hours actual work and get paid over and over and over again for a century.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fucking Disney

    It's so obvious who's behind this.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting timing

    The copyright claim of the famous Rider-Waite tarot deck is about to end and enter public domain.

    It's a messy situation because the original artist, Pamela Colman-Smith had no descendants, the art's production also involved two other men: Waite and Smith, and the rights to her artwork eventually made its way to U.S. Games Systems, Inc, which has been fairly litigious in seeking its 'pound of flesh' according to irate tarot enthusiasts.

  34. bobsmith2016

    But copyright holders – typically large corporations – don't want the -cost- of having to actively assert their rights...

    FTFY

  35. Sanguma
    Flame

    Pity the poor starving undead zombies

    If the zombies don't get paid, they can't be incentivized to create, can they? And if the dead authors don't get their works protected, they won't write, will they? The living dead need their incentives to be creative.

    So far, only Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has ever written a posthumous book. Write to your Congresscritter and demand that the Walt Disney Corp start publishing the works that Walt Disney himself created after his death, when they demanded that he be posthumously compensated for the works he created prehumously. Demand to see the Walt Disney Corp books so we can see whether or not the Walt Disney Corp has in fact paid Walt Disney posthumously.

    And tell them you'll set the zombies after them if they don't.

  36. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Dummies Bank Rolling Wannabe Artists Failing Spectacularly to Deliver Novel Prime Future Content

    Bankrupt of new ideas for recording and streaming, old decrepit systems stoop to try and conquer/retain hearts and minds with golden oldies reminding punters of that which they cannot profit from, for old decrepit systems are dependent upon the revenue streams they have dreamed up to server themselves from historical artefacts?

    Yes, it is no more complex than that .... the desperate rear guard action of a civilisation in decline and retreat?

  37. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Stop

    I have a BIG disagreement with one of your points

    While it's understandable that the enormous value of music ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley to David Bowie should be protected, critics are frustrated that lawmakers are effectively condemning vast swathes of culturally important recordings to the dustbin of history by extending a blanket copyright rather than requiring copyright holders to assert their rights.

    I generally agreed with the article, but you contradict your argument by saying "some" music is valuable, and so deserves to be protected for longer... That sort of philosophy ONLY means extending copyright for everything, else why is something "culturally important" considered off limits just because it's still making a buck for the artists great-great grandson (or more likely, the publishing company)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have a BIG disagreement with one of your points

      > While it's understandable that the enormous value of music ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley to David Bowie should be protected

      Arguably that's the wrong way round: those who have already made millions out of their work are the ones who need protecting the least.

      Especially if they're dead, as are all three of those examples.

  38. Vanir
    Joke

    I hold the copyright on truth

    but it hasn't done me any good!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hold the copyright on truth

      sorry for your luck :(

    2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
      Mushroom

      The upside

      Hitler's Mein Kampf entered the public domain 70 years after his death and will now become proscribed again.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A movie analogy

    It's easier to produce remakes and formulaic (e.g. superhero genre) movies than to produce new and original material. The same goes for 'sampling' that is done in the music recording industry.

    Therefore, these entities, usually corporations, think it's more convenient to extend copyright for as long as possible, and reel in the passive income through royalty or licensing payments. The lawyers and lobbyists would take care of that.

    It doesn't matter if the content creator dies... in fact, sometimes it is more expedient that the content creator dies. Michael Jackson found out the hard way. He was battling Sony for the rights to some music catalogue right up until his untimely death.

    My opinion is that copyright protection should last no longer than 60 years; other variables such as an increasing lifespan should have no influence on this. And it should neither be extended nor shortened.

  40. doug_bostrom

    Same congress that can ask the question, "is sea level rise due to rocks falling in the ocean?"

    Calculated stupidity.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Actually, that's a good question. Do you know how much land the world's rivers carry into the oceans every year?

  41. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I'd hoped for more accuracy from The Register..

    ...Originally copyright was seen as something that would extend to the end of someone's life and this a certain amount of time after their death. It was, after all, their work and so once they were gone, it didn't serve any purpose to have its rights controlled....

    Originally, copyright was for a period of 14 years, plus another 14 if you renewed. See Statute of Anne

    The concept was a 'bargain' between a creative person and society. Society would grant a creator a monopoly for a limited period to benefit from their ideas, if, in return, society could make free use of them after that time. There was, orignally, no concept of a creator holding rights to the idea until they died, let alone allowing the idea to be purchased by a corporation and kept from society forever.

    Interestingly, during the copyright negotiations which led up to the 'Mickey Mouse' laws in the US, a senator had this point explained to him when he proposed a 'forever' date. He drafted a reply calling for copyright to last "forever minus one day"....

  42. gz3zbz

    You wouldn't steal a car

    Copyright holders are fond of telling the public that breaches of copyright are akin to theft, and have secured some notable prosecutions. Conversely, trying to extend copyright must also be theft, by copyright holders, from the public. Can we have some prosecutions?

  43. Domino
    Alert

    Cultural appropriation and control

    It seems to me that the longer copyright is, the more chance there is that the largest companies will end up owning all the culturally significant copyrights (eg Disney + Marvel + Star Wars etc). There's a real risk to societies development in setting up this type of long term cultural appropriation by gatekeeper companies. What is promoted as a benefit to creatives can also be used to gag them and control derivative works. Can culture continue to grow incrementally when no one alive remembers the context and impact of the original work by the time it becomes public domain?

  44. FIA

    While it's understandable that the enormous value of music ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley to David Bowie should be protected,

    Can someone explain this to me? Why is it understandable?? I'm confused. What 'value' are you protecting? IT's not the cultural value that would be realised if these were in the public domain?

    I get that if I create something it should be protected for a time so I can benefit from it and others who didn't contribute are prevented from benefiting without my say so.

    But why should someone receive protection long after their death? My descendants won't receive payment for the software I write? If I were a cabinet maker, my descendants wouldn't receive payment for resale of my work after I die? despite it potentially having taken a lot of skill and effort on my part??

    I mean I'm over 40, likely over half way through my life, yet the work of someone who died before I was born is still protected by copyright? How is that beneficial to society as a whole, or indeed fair?

  45. Long John Silver

    'Intellectual property' is illusory

    Arrival of the digital era makes plain a truth hitherto obscured. Previously, information (e.g. cultural artefacts) was conveyed on physical media (e.g. paper and vinyl disks). 'Medium' and 'message' were inseparable; the medium, being physical, could be traded according to conventional market-economics based on scarcity and price discovery. It was 'obvious' the message was being traded because it was inseparable from the medium. Moreover, law was introduced enabling distribution of 'messages' to be a (time period limited) monopoly.

    Digital representation of cultural artefacts breaks the tie between one instance of the message and one particular instance of the substrate conveying it (medium). Thereby, 'scarcity' is abolished.

    Digital sequences are capable of being copied and transmitted without degradation; this not being so for analogue representation. Moreover, copying entails negligible expense, and transmission likewise. The upshot is that digital sequences are incapable of being 'owned' in the manner of physical objects. Sequences cannot be stolen because the alleged 'owner' has not been deprived of anything. Also, once loose, they cannot be corralled; this despite efforts to apply anachronistic law and technical obstacles (e.g. Digital Rights Management). The act of creation may be likened to discovery of a particularly interesting sequence in the Platonic Heaven containing all conceivable sequences of given lengths.

    So, regardless of objection raised by people stuck in nineteenth century modes of thought, copyright cannot be enforced. That is a pragmatic rather than moral or legal statement. Disobedience to copyright abounds and increases. Mainly this results from restrictive practices and price gouging by so-called rights' holders. Nevertheless, there is compelling reason supporting the contention that 'intellectual property' (here we concentrate on copyright) cannot exist and the specious notion of copyright impairs rather than promotes creative activity.

    Limitations to copyright's reach (e.g. 'fair use') were considered at its inception but have proven ineffective at providing safe ground for truly creative activity. This arises from severe restriction on production of 'derivative' works. The simple fact is all works are derivative else they would lack context and their cultural worth would be ignored. The greatest among creative historical figures acknowledged debt (certainly not the monetary kind) to their intellectual forebears. Sometimes, composers would openly base a work on variations on a theme from somebody else's works and make proper attribution/homage. These days, woe betide anyone daring to produce 'Variations on the theme of the Beatles' "It's a hard days night"; mercifully, nobody has bothered.

    There is more to say, but not now. The argument proceeds by looking at how 'entitlement to attribution" replaces copyright. It is shown that truly creative people are able to raise income, by various means, from those admiring their works. These days, via the Internet, creative individuals can interact directly with their 'audience' without need of rights' holding intermediaries. Members of the audience, instead of being passive 'consumers' can participate in creative dialogue and mess around with derivative ideas (how about writing an alternative ending to a 'Harry Potter' story?). The grand losers in all this shall be copyright cartels and middlemen with distribution 'rights'. Expression of creative thought shall benefit, and in absence of price-gouging cartels, the public shall have disposable income available to promote activity by those they admire.

  46. WereWoof

    I do have a question: If, say I were to create a cartoon character for a film that I made in say 1960 and copyrighted that character, if then in 1970 I made a 2nd film with the same character, would that extend the copyright on that character for another 10 years? IANAL (obviously) I am just curious to know.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The character itself is not subject to copyright. If that character is significant to your trade (like Mickey Mouse is to Disney), you can declare that character a trademark for your business (a trademark is basically something that identifies your business). You can even apply to the USPTO to register the trademark, subject to limitations based on originality (the character of Mickey Mouse is a registered trademark of Disney). The films you made with that character ARE subject to copyright.

      Trademarks and copyrights are different things with their own boundaries of use based somewhat on terms you set. Unlike copyrights, trademarks are not automatic and must at least be declared (but don't have to be registered; it's a judgment based on the mark's significance to you).

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "I do have a question: If, say I were to create a cartoon character for a film that I made in say 1960 and copyrighted that character, if then in 1970 I made a 2nd film with the same character, would that extend the copyright on that character for another 10 years? IANAL (obviously) I am just curious to know."

      Copyright doesn't protect an idea, only a tangible expression of that idea. You would have to get a Trademark or patent to protect the character.

  47. JimBlueMK

    Market forces

    remind me again about markets and how the Govt should not interfere in the operation of said markets.

    That damned socialist government in the US always stopping the free market from workng.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Market forces

      Remind me again about how unfettered markets can be just as bad as state-run markets? I keep thinking back to the Gilded Age when big enterprise got big enough to bribe the governments instead of the other way around.

  48. hayzoos

    Ludicrous

    I am not creative enough to live off my creativity. I have created some works worthy of copyright though.

    My descendants do not deserve ongoing remuneration of use of my creative work from 20 years ago. They can have what is left over from all I have received during my lifetime after settling all my debts. The law as it stands now relieves them of my debts not so settled.

    Copyright should not begin until published. I have works created many years ago that I have not yet published. I should be able to pass these on to descendants for publication and subsequent copyright protection. Life of the creator should not matter. X number of years from publication should. This also simplifies corporate or real person ownership. 14 years seems reasonable to me.

    Prolific creators would have no trouble living off their creations and supporting a whole cadre of promoters, producers, marketers, agents, lawyers, and the like, even extended family, within the 14 year limit of each piece.

    I once tried to produce personal copies of a professional looking photograph I created at a large retail outlet. They were not going to allow me to have the copies I paid them to produce, with no refund. They said this looks like a copyrighted image. I said it very well could be if it were published, but it is not, and I produced the image, therefore I own it. After a bit of back and forth with a couple of supervisors, they "allowed" me to have the copies.

    What good is 144 years to me? Even if I could produce enough to live off my creativity, I am not going to benefit from 144 years worth of revenue. Relatively, very few works can be leveraged to have revenue for 144 years.

  49. boidsonly

    For all the Conservative bashing on here, the liberals are the goobers benefiting from this extension. America is owned by the Music, Print and Movie Industry-all owned by the lunatic fringe left.

  50. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Hail to the coyrights!

    They will enable Michael Jackson and David Bowie to be able to live from their hard work.

  51. MachDiamond Silver badge

    The cess pool of the music industry

    Creativity and business sense are often opposite and exclusive traits. Many musicians and bands get completely blindsided by record companies and happily sign away all of their rights to their music without a backward glance. Very few are savvy enough to understand what's in the contracts they are signing and how that will affect them even a year later. All a record company needs to do is offer them a paltry sum of money to "sign" with the company. The record company will then put them in the studio (belonging to the record company) at a ruinous hourly rate that will be buried somewhere in the fine print and charged back to the band as an "advance against sales" and provide them with a "producer" (cost plus a fat percentage back to the record company) and gleefully allow the band to twiddle around for the length of time the record company thinks the band's cut might be on prospective sales. The last 7-10 days is when all of the final tracks are likely to be cut. On the side will be a publishing deal. Then there will be a management contract that chips away more money. The record company may even organize a tour in support of the album where the expenses are charged back to the band along with another large cut of any proceeds. The final outcome is the record company can make a pile of money and the "band" winds up owing them a ship-ton of dosh and 2 more albums and can't record anything else until they pay up or fulfill their contract and can be prohibited from performing their songs that they signed away the performance rights to along with the "mechanical" rights to the recording of the album.

    It's a rotten quagmire that musicians are still happy to jump into. The fact that the large record companies can wind up holding the Copyright on a bunch of music isn't the fault of Copyright, it's the naiveté inherent with many musicians. There are two sides to the creative arts, the creative and the business. If you don't know anything about business and are faced by a phalanx of entertainment lawyers that do, you are going down. There are lots of people that can play an instrument, paint, sing and, yes, take pictures, but if they don't have any business skills, they are unlikely to make a living from it and may just wind up enriching a bunch of cave fungus.

    BTW, being a working musician that can earn a living is a good second job for a programmer. It's often pretty part time, so you can develop software when not playing instead of just looking out of the window of the van or bus. A friend of mine tours as the drummer for a vintage 70's rock band during much of the year and codes. The combination brings in a fair amount of money and he gets to see the world at the same time. That beats the hell out of a cubicle.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019