EU Getting Ready To Vote On Unnecessary Copyright Extension

from the sad dept

Whenever we talk about things like retroactive copyright term extension, we frequently see comments from even the regular copyright system supporters among the readership here insisting that they, too, feel copyright is too long and extending it further makes little sense. In fact, it often seems difficult to find anyone willing to publicly support copyright term extension... and yet, it seems to keep happening. We were just discussing how Denmark had suddenly changed its position on copyright extension on the issue of neighboring rights, which are a particularly pernicious interpretation of copyright law.

Either way, it looks like Denmark's sudden caving (after quite a bit of lobbying from the entertainment industry) is quickly snowballing into the EU Commission moving forward with copyright term extension across Europe. Multiple economic studies have shown that such extensions do not benefit society. In fact, they rarely benefit the content creators who are paraded out as the reason for such extensions. Instead, the majority of the money goes to a few gatekeeper companies who hold a bunch of old copyrights. It's pretty sad that the EU would so blatantly take content out of the public domain and give it to a few legacy companies.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Abolish copy'right'. They're abusive laws and they don't deserve to exist.

     

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  2.  
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    rw (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    abusive

    Amen!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    wallow-T, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Now that their copyrights will be extended, I am delighted that the Beatles and Maria Callas will be encouraged to record new works. :-)

    (Last I heard, Maria Callas' opera recordings produced 10% of the revenue of EMI Classics. Callas' last recordings were from 1963, and she died in the 1970s.)

     

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  4.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:46am

    Look on the bright side

    This term extension will remove any "moral foundation" of copyright. Whenever anyone refers to infringement as "theft" we can now point out that rightsholders have also "stolen" from the public - and on a far greater scale.

     

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  5.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:49am

    Re:

    If you're in Europe you should make copies of all your out of copyright recordings and make them available as widely as possible while you still can. Let's make a pre-emptive strike!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Re: Look on the bright side

    Whenever anyone refers to infringement as "theft" we can now point out that rightsholders have also "stolen" from the public - and on a far greater scale.

    Let's see, at about US$80,000 per copy...

    Hey guys! I just solved the budget problem!

     

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  7.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Look on the bright side

    Let's see, at about US$80,000 per copy...

    that we claim we would have made...

     

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  8.  
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    Kevin (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Look on the bright side

    Considering the vast number of people who could have turned around and used the newly public work and turn it into some fantastic isn't $80,000 per item a little low? Lets play a hypothetical math game for one moment. Since every download = lost sale then we should be able to take every person which has now lost access to this work as a missed opportunity. For the fun of it we can use the United States and lets just say that 300,000,000 of us were going to do something with each one of the items that just had their copyright extended. Using your 80,000 figure I would have to say that the content industry now owes the American people 24,000,000,000,000 for the privilege of extending copyright.

     

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  9.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Look on the bright side

    Just give the non-corps a tax break and call it even. :p

     

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  10.  
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    Kevin (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Look on the bright side

    **That's 24,000,000,000,000/per item that had its copyright extended.

     

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  11.  
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    misterdoug (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:28am

    Been there, done that

    We can already point out that rightsholders have stolen from the public. The latest copyright extension in the U.S. was the Bono Act of 1998. One of its many provisions extended copyrights until 2067 on all audio recordings made before 1972. This included the entire "golden age" of radio and extends all the way back to wax cylinder recordings made by Edison. Thousands of works that had been in the public domain for decades were suddenly re-copyrighted. The same thing could happen to copyrights on written materials, to patents, to anything else that continues to make money for someone who can afford to bribe a senator to cut and paste their email into a piece of legislation. That's the U.S. version of "representative government" these days.

     

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  12.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    We need a new system for old works

    Let's face it. There are a few big companies like Disney that are frantic that their old franchise Mickey Mouse movies might be about to go into the public domain. These few big companies are willing to do just about anything to get copyright extended, and when they do they get a blanket extension for everyone and everything. A 20 year extension only guarantees that they will be back in 15 years wanting another extension for everything.

    I propose a system that would let a copyright holder extend copyright by paying a fee each year. The fee could be used to renew the copyright indefinitely, but the fee would increase every year. Once the fee stopped being paid the work would go into the public domain immediately. This would let companies like Disney have a certain way to extend their copyright without the political uncertainty of extensions.

     

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  13.  
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    Squirrel Brains (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    What is that public to do?

    What would a copyright revolt look like?

    At some point, the public will lose their appetite for allowing Big Content to bribe politicians at the expense of our culture. Instead of trying to go the political route, the public will simply revolt. In the US, our politicians are for the most part entirely captured by Big Content; rare is the dissenting voice. The masses will rebel, Big Content will martial the power of the state to try to put down the rebellion.

    As I type this, it is all sounding eerily familiar...

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Re: Look on the bright side

    Copy'right' exists for the same reason that it keeps getting extended. To exploit and oppress the public, not to promote the progress.

     

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  15.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    You can have it both ways?

    Mike Masnick: "Multiple economic studies have shown that such extensions do not benefit society. In fact, they rarely benefit the content creators who are paraded out as the reason for such extensions. Instead, the majority of the money goes to a few gatekeeper companies who hold a bunch of old copyrights. It's pretty sad that the EU would so blatantly take content out of the public domain and give it to a few legacy companies."

    Senate report on the US Copyright Extension Act of 1998: "The purpose of the bill is to ensure adequate copyright protection for American works in foreign nations and the continued economic benefits of a healthy surplus balance of trade in the exploitation of copyrighted works. The bill accomplishes these goals by extending the current U.S. copyright term for an additional 20 years. Such an extension will provide significant trade benefits by substantially harmonizing U.S. copyright law to that of the European Union while ensuring fair compensation for American creators who deserve to benefit fully from the exploitation of their works. Moreover, by stimulating the creation of new works and providing enhanced economic incentives to preserve existing works, such an extension will enhance the long-term volume, vitality and accessibility of the public domain." ~~ source http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&dbname=cp104&sid=cp104wMGKl&refer=&r_n=sr315 .104&item=&&&sel=TOC_8954&

    Who do you agree with?

     

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  16.  
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    coldbrew, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Re: Been there, done that

    You know, my cousin happens to be the sole archivist for almost all the old-time US radio shows from way back. He's pretty old, and I've contemplated copying his entire collection when he's sleeping. This may be the catalyst for my doing so now. I'll put up the torrent if/when I grow the balls.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    Re: What is that public to do?

    "What would a copyright revolt look like?"

    It would certainly involve burning stuff.

    .
    .
    .

    CD's and DVD's mostly.

     

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  18.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re: We need a new system for old works

    I like that idea.

    Unfortunately, as I was typing this reply, I realised how it would probably play out. Big content companies would simply pass the cost to the consumer who would not wish to pay the increase in copyright fees, so something like on old movie on DVD would cost the same as a new movie on DVD and the price of all of them would go up until nobody could afford to buy anything.

    But I still think it'd be an idea worth researching if we could only get the politicians to actually listen to the PEOPLE for a change!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Rich, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Been there, done that

    You should do it just to preserve them. So much of our history is rotting away and being lost because of copyright. It makes me sad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    MrWilson, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Re: We need a new system for old works

    On top of the fee, they should have to prove that they're actually using the copyright. If you haven't done anything with Mickey Mouse in the last five years, you lose the right to dictate who uses him. Use it or lose it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Kevin (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: What is that public to do?

    careful, you are going to get the planet savers after you for that one. Especially when they can make such great wind chimes.

     

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  22.  
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    Nom du Clavier (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Re: We need a new system for old works

    In addition, to be eligible for copyright on DRM'd/paywalled items, an unemcumbered version must be put in escrow. If the item is ever inaccessible for more than a day, it's automagically released into the public domain.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Re: What is that public to do?

    I think you missed it.

    Think:

    Copyright revolt. Burning CD's.

    Get it? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Kevin (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What is that public to do?

    Nope, I got it. You were drawing a parallel with the burning of bras during the woman's rights movement. Woot! I was saying that the burning of CDs and all that plastic is a toxic smoke monster and that the environmentalists would be upset at such a concept. And then how could the hippies make all those nifty wind chimes that they sell on their way to Burning Man.

    Get it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Been there, done that

    Indeed. This is a moral imperative. Copy everything you can, because you never know when you'll be the last one with a copy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Squirrel Brains (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Re: You can have it both ways?

    The senate report is complete bunk. People who care about the work will preserve it. People have a good idea to reuse the work will propagate it. All after the work has entered into the public domain. There is no incentive to preserve a work with apparently no economic value while the copyright exists.

     

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  27.  
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    Nathan F (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What is that public to do?

    Funny.. I figured he was talking about Burning a CD or DVD as in using your CD/DVD drive on a computer to make a copy.. Get it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: You can have it both ways?

    Exactly! Now could somebody please explain this to the idiots who keep extending copyright and, worse still, the idiot who said in that quote that extending copyright law "will enhance the long-term volume, vitality and accessibility of the public domain"

    I passed maths at school with flying colours and even somebody with poor math skills can work out that it doesn't add up: Public Domain Material *minus* Public Domain Material *equals* Zero, yet according to that quote, Public Domain Material *minus* Public Domain Material *equals* More Public Domain Material. Sorry, but one minus one does not equal two.

    Ha! I think I just provided the best way of explaining how the music industry is so bad at accounting!

     

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  29.  
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    coldbrew, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:59am

    Re: We need a new system for old works

    I really like this system you all just made up. Why can't reality be this simple?

     

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  30.  
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    Kevin (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What is that public to do?

    I trollz how I wants too.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Appleflap, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    While you're on the EU...

    Apologies if this post is too far off-topic or desultory. At least this way, a moderator gets to earn his keep.

    For the past months, I've been morbidly fascinated by the copyright trolls in action in the USA. Legal downloads and legal weed allowed me to alternate between silent gloating and silent sympathy.
    But all good things must come to an end: After Denmark, the Dutch government now proposes silly anti-piracy measures.
    Not as draconian as COICA but the proposal appears as unhindered by technical or economic objectivity as lobbyists can make it.

    To date, downloading copyrighted content is not illegal in the NL, but uploading it is. Loss of income through illicit downloads is compensated by a blanket tax on (re-)writable media (a whole new pit of snakes, that).

    In a side note to this law, the minister also calls upon content providers to increase the availability of legal alternatives.
    Here's how that will turn out: "Oh yay, I can now view -not download- House MD for 9,99 per episode, only 6 months after TV premiere in the USA!" (9,99 = 14,43 USD, too bloody expensive)

    For now, most of the tech-minded people I know agree that downloads are not the problem, but Big Content's business model is. We will happily keep downloading TV shows from the USA as long as there are no fairly-priced legal alternatives to watch recent episodes.
    What is a fair price? Depends on the show; I'd say anywhere between 4 and 14 USD (download, with DRM).

    The minister assures the public that this law is not aimed at and will not criminalise the average internet user.
    Maybe it's just me, but if a minister feels he needs to stress that point in the first press release, my skin crawls with paranoia; the focus may be on facilitators now, but who's to say how the law will be used 10, 20 years from now?

    Only "massive downloaders" will be investigated.
    2 problems there:
    - How do you define "massive downloading"?
    - How do you detect "massive downloading"? deep packet inspection; Big Brother 0.3 Beta.

    Maybe it's just me, but if a minister feels he needs to stress that point in the first press release, my skin crawls with paranoia; the focus may be on facilitators now, but who's to say how the law will be used 10, 20 years from now?

    Regards from an avid reader in the land of wooden shoes and tulips; keep up the good work Mike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    No offense to the techdirt community, but I don't think my comment deserves an insightful remark. It was hardly insightful, it wasn't meant to be (but not all comments are or should be) and it seems that it got its insightful remark largely due to the fact that it is near the top of the thread. Top comments don't need extra attention if they're not insightful, giving insightful remarks to non-insightful comments distorts the purpose of Techdirt's insightful system, which is to direct attention to truly insightful remarks. Directing more attention towards top comments that already get enough attention by virtue of the fact that they're located near the top and comments that aren't insightful can only direct attention away from truly insightful comments, being that we only have a limited attention span and time to read comments. Use the insightful button a bit more carefully.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re:

    (maybe Techdirt needs an agree or disagree button as well).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Frost, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Why would the EU be exempt from the abuse?

    When you have a money-based and capitalistic system, it will always drift into oligarchies and monopolies. Those will then amass so much money and power that they become the tail wagging the dog. The politicians are only there for show, the real power as always is with the money. And money says that what's good for culture and society is irrelevant - they just want more money. Which is why more and more people are beginning to realize that it's time to change things up and start looking at sane ways to apportion our resources and run our world... so I guess it's not all bad.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Keep it up guys, I'm taking notes.

    How copyright should be:

    Producers should have rights to achieve double their costs and have their rights cease to exist after that, it gives a fair payment for the work done and incentivize the continue creation of works to maintain revenues.

    Use it or loose it, if you don't use the copyrighted material for a certain amount of time you loose the rights to it.

    If copyright extensions are permitted, those terms should be subject to renew licenses every year with increasing fees for every year it is extended, those fees should be calculated as a percentage of the earnings of the copyright holder or if available the revenues for the work.

    Thank you all for the ideas, I will make sure it get cataloged and pasted every time somebody says "You don't want artists to get paid", with the accompanying text "People just don't want to paid for things they never had to pay before".

     

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  36.  
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    Nicedoggy, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Keep it up guys, I'm taking notes.

    Copyrights exist as an incentive for production of works and not as a payment system that is why copyrights lengths that can reach 150 years or even more are absurd. Term length should be 10 years because it is the time the most revenues are generated for the majority of works, after that no meaningful revenues are observed so we allow one term extension.

    Some exceptional works that continue to generate revenues after that and since they are few and far between one extension may be appropriate, but only if this never becomes the rule but the exception, so we permit another 10 years where the copyright holder should pay a percentage of what he makes yearly from the sales of that work each year for the reminder of the years it will be covered.

    How can we make copyright taxable?
    How can we make copyright have sane limits?
    How can we make copyright act like a variable, with thresholds to trigger certain actions? you know conditions change and static laws will never be ok for all periods and phases, how do we understand those cycles and create dynamic laws?

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 1:42pm

    I believe most countries could get behind a tax on works that generate lots of revenues to up their collection capabilities, if it is that important people should start writing their representatives with lots of ideas of how to tax copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Nicedoggy, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

    Surely the companies wouldn't mind paying taxes on things that are so valuable and create such a wealth right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re:

    Top comments don't need extra attention if they're not insightful, giving insightful remarks to non-insightful comments distorts the purpose of Techdirt's insightful system, which is to direct attention to truly insightful remarks.

    Well, your comment is certainly more insightful then the first 10 comments on a typical TorrentFreak article, all of which say "First!".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    I'm torrenting as much music from the 1940-1960s now as I can.
    It soon won't be legal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: You can have it both ways?

    "Sorry, but one minus one does not equal two."

    Nice analogy. It's simple and it makes your point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    misterdoug (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:10am

    The sole archivist?

    I'd like to hear more about your uncle and what his exact job was. Maybe he worked in a section of the Library of Congress or something. The "archive" for Old Time Radio consists of tens of thousands of collectors who have ben trading tapes, CDs and now MP3s for decades. In fact a large portion of the so-called Golden Age of Radio exists only because of illegal collecting and trading.

    When old-time radio shows were originally broadcast there was rarely any thought of ever replaying them. Often the only reasons recordings were made at all was so the performance studio didn't have to be in the same building as the transmitter, or so the show could be broadcast live to the east coast and replayed later that same day for the west coast. During WWII many shows were recorded specifically so they could be replayed for servicemen through the Armed Forces Radio Network.

    Transcription discs were often discarded or destroyed immediately after use, or stored in a closet and thrown out later when the closet got full. Engineers and other employees often saved transcription discs as a hobby. When tape came into the picture they made illegal copies to trade with other collectors. Later it was CDs and now it's the Internet.

    There are shows produced by major networks like CBS, and a few other notables such as the Jack Benny Show, whose rights holders or their heirs have rigorously kept track of their copyrights and enforced them over the years, but in the vast majority of cases the identities of the rights holders have been obscured by time. In the 30s and 40s there was no uniform practice for assigning radio show copyrights. Sometimes the originating station held the rights, sometimes the writers, sometimes a producer, even a lead actor. Over the years stations and production companies have gone out of business, merged and been absorbed, making it impossible in practical terms to trace the current rights holders.

    Without years of "pirating" by collectors and enthusiasts (myself included) who keep creating and distributing more copies out of love for the material, very little of that segment of entertainment history would still exist. So for their efforts to retroactively castrate the public domain, I say to our corporate representatives in Congress, GO FUCK YOURSELVES.

     

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  43.  
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    misterdoug (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:41am

    Re: We need a new system for old works

    Opt-in copyright has been proposed repeatedly, but what I mean by "proposed" doesn't involve handing suitcases of money to Congressmen, hence it will not happen. The U.S. has been driving the world relentlessly toward the goal of perpetual rightsholding and the elimination of public domain. This effort has had many victories and few setbacks, and I believe it will succeed within a few years.

     

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  44.  
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    coldbrew, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 7:12am

    Re: The sole archivist?

    To be honest, I've never explored the veracity of these claims, but if you are interested I can dig into the details and figure out what exactly this entails. I don't know about you, but I don't go fact checking every family member at the yearly picnic.

    I appreciate your knowledge in this area, and I'm glad someone put me in check *here*. Maybe I can turn this stuff over to you?

    I've seen the wall of tapes and it's at least 12 foot wide and 8 foot tall, and my cousin is about 70 years old. How should I let you know what I find out when I dig deeper?

    P.S. One interesting tidbit: His son works for Universal :-)

     

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  45.  
    identicon
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