While the US locks up copyrighted works for longer than could possibly be reasonable thanks to our friends at the Walt Disney Company and the Sonny Bono "Keep Mickey Locked Up" Act, over in Europe they have dared to go with a horrifying 50 year copyright. Why is it horrifying? Well, it appears that fifty years ago popular rock and roll began, and that means plenty of those songs are about to hit the public domain. Of course, the music industry folks could never let that happen, which is why they're lobbying hard for a Sonny Bono copyright term extension act of their own, because the thought of Elvis Presley's or the Beatles songs entering the public domain scares the living daylights out of the industry. They've convinced Reuters to write up a very one-sided piece that never talks to anyone who might point out why there's a limit on the length of copyright, and how stuff in the public domain is important to our culture. Is anyone over in Europe complaining about how Shakespeare's works are in the public domain? However, Reuters digs up some random musician to say: "It's scary." It's scary? This is a musician who is on "a 37-date sold-out tour." You're on a sold out tour, making plenty of money, and you're complaining that you won't get your royalties from something you did fifty years ago? In most lines of business, you get paid for what you're doing today, not what you did fifty years ago. Update: Ernest Miller points out that if the entire point of copyright is to incentivize people to create, then no one should care. The material was created already, so it worked: "I can safely say that extending copyright for existing recordings is highly unlikely to incentivize the creation of more music in the 1950s and 60s."
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