Gowers Admits That Evidence Suggests UK Should Shorten Copyright Length, Not Extend It

from the could-have-mentioned-that-earlier dept

Late last year in the UK the infamous "Gowers Report" on intellectual property was issued, while it recommended not extending copyright terms on performances, some of us felt that the report was too balanced for its own good. Gowers seemed to go out of his way to make sure the report gave a little to everyone -- and therefore basically gave nothing to anyone. Rather than looking at the fundamental issues, it just tried to give a little bit here to one side and a little bit there to another. Of course, the copyright term extension got the most attention -- with supporters of term extension mistakenly thinking that copyright is a welfare system to perpetually support musicians rather than an incentive system for the creation of new content. Now that the report is all published and done with, apparently Andrew Gowers is willing to admit that when they did their actual research and investigation, they found that the economic evidence supported making copyright terms even shorter than the existing 50 years. However, recognizing that decreasing the length would have created howls of outrage from the industry that still thought it had a chance for extending the term, he simply recommended leaving it alone. Of course, it should come as no surprise to those of us around here that the economic evidence would suggest society is better off with shorter copyright terms -- but it's disappointing that Gowers had to wait until well after the report was released to even make that basic point. At least it's one more hole in the myth that longer copyrights must be good for society. The entire interview makes for an interesting read, though (as fits with his report) Gowers keeps focusing on the importance of "balance" between two opposing extremes, as if they're competing. At some point it would be nice for people to realize that there are solutions where everyone can benefit.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Evostick, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 4:46am

    50 years, just mechanical copy write

    Note that this is just for recordings. It says nothing about the copy write on the song itself (life + 70 years I think), just that particular recording.

    50 years for a recording of a song seems very long, especially considering how quickly/cheaply things can be recorded now. 1 weeks work for a lifetime of cash.

    (N.B. Ususally, whoever pays for the studio time owns the mechanical copywrite. This is usually the labels. They are the ones that are complaining, not the artist)

     

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  2.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 5:55am


    The entire interview makes for an interesting read, though (as fits with his report) Gowers keeps focusing on the importance of "balance" between two opposing extremes, as if they're competing. At some point it would be nice for people to realize that there are solutions where everyone can benefit.


    You always lose me on the balance argument in copyright discussion. Wouldn't that solution(s) that works for all sides (artist, customer, big time labels) be a balance (or comprimise)?

    1. The big time labels gets everything it wants which is total control of music. The artists themeselves will make less and less from music they work hard to produce and customers get charged out the butt trying to rebuy their entire collection for every format/platform they adopt. The artists in time decide to leave the lables in order to make better money elsewhere and customers quit buying from the labels. This eventually causes the labels to wither and die off.

    2. The customer gets what it wants, all content for free. Yes I know there are people who will accept paying music, show tickets, merchandise and so on but frankly speaking if the content was free I don't see enough money being donated to the bands to keep their act going. So with free merchandise it's pretty obvious what would happen to the artists and even the labels would suffer big time. If all content is free (even the show tickets and merchandise that's a part of the "experience" that people labels should be selling instead of just the music) then no label can compete with that.

    3. Sadly I see the artists almost caught in the middle of a power struggle between the big labels and the fans. But if the artists got their way they would probably charge borderline extortion prices to rob fans and their contracts would leave the labels with next to nothing. If the labels cease to make money they won't bother with signing artists and the fans will eventually get sick of paying outrageous prices and go elsewhere for entertainment. Mind you this is based on the assumption of greed. But you rarely hear artists chiming in on the issues of copyright, piracy, and infringment...

    It's obvious that one of those three sides can't have everything it wants or else the other two suffer and over time that one side would also suffer. I know this is about the UK and not the US but when I saw balance I just had to comment.

     

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  3.  
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    RandomThoughts, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 6:57am

    See what happens when George isn't around to protect Gowers from himself?

     

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  4.  
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    Charles Griswold, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 8:07am

    Re:

    See what happens when George isn't around to protect Gowers from himself?

    Eh? You lost me. The only two Georges I can think of (off the top of my head) that have anything to do with the music industry are George Michael and Boy George. I'm not sure that either would have much relevant to add to the discussion that hasn't already been said a thousand times.

     

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