UK Musicians: Extend Copyright, But Give The Copyright Back To The Musicians

from the but-why? dept

It seems like a lot of musicians really do think of copyright as a welfare system. Recently, in the UK, there was a launch of a new lobbying group, the Featured Artists Coalition, who we had mentioned last year, when it was first announced. The group has always said that one of its goals was to get musicians to retain their copyright, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the group has now come out in favor of copyright extension, but with a twist. They’re saying that copyright should be extended… but that the extension should go to the musician, rather than any other copyright holder (such as a record label). So it looks like my initial fear about this group is coming true: that rather than look at innovative models, it would simply look at new protectionist schemes to benefit its members at the expense of everyone else. It’s hard to come up with any fathomable explanation for extending copyright and handing it to someone else unless you truly believed that copyright is a welfare system, rather than an incentive to create.

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Comments on “UK Musicians: Extend Copyright, But Give The Copyright Back To The Musicians”

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R. Miles says:

Re: Greed...

I think copyright extensions = greed, plain and simple.
I think people are confusing distribution and copyright, when I see remarks like this.

There’s absolutely no proof an artist will demand the same “pay per use” of songs no longer under label copyright. I’m sure there will be some, but all? Highly doubt it.

If it was about greed, the artist could care less about who owns the copyright, so long as those paychecks from the distributor keep coming in.

But as long as distributors call the shots, both fans and artists continue having issues with them.

I’m still confused why any artist would sign away rights to their own copyrights to begin with, then turn around and whine about this loss when it’s not in their favor, especially when the distributor’s the one upsetting fans.

At any rate, I do believe the entire copyright, distribution, and royalty systems are outdated, cause inflated costs based on anticipated value, and the greed you speak of in several models.

The system will only change when artists quit signing with these distributors and customers quit buying from them.

Until this happens, chaos remains in control.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

I’m totally against copyright extensions. As has been argued time and time again, the musicians and the greedy middlemen made an agreement with society to receive a government granted monopoly lasting a set period of time. But now they want to change the agreement to their benefit without any benefit to society.

However, if the UK is going to do something this wrongheaded, it might as well cut off the middlemen in the process.

Reality Check says:

Kill them All!

Kill copyright law across the board. It is abused in it’s current form.

Grant artists and creators a 3 year copyright monopoly on their creations. 3 years is enough to reap the majority of the benefits of the creation AND promote creativity.

By limiting it to 3 years, you force the artists and musicians to innovate and create new content, and after 3 years their content goes into the public domain and can be used to innovate.

Time to get this system back to what it was designed to do!

hegemon13 says:

Re: Kill them All!

Three years from what? The moment they type the last word and declare it final? If so, the publication process alone can take that long. If you are going to make it that short, it needs to be from the moment of official public availability. In other words, the day the book hits retail shelves. Then, you would probably be right that three years covers the vast majority of profits for most books.

I personally think three years is a bit to short, but something around 7-10 would be all right. I am more inclined to say that it lasts the author’s life or so many years, let’s say 7, whichever comes last. In other words, if the author is still alive, they have copyright on the work, but they can choose to open it up to public domain if they wish. If the work has been out at least 7 years when the author dies, it goes straight to public domain. If not, the family can continue to benefit for the remainder of those 7 years. That would take care of the situation where an author is published, dies shortly afterward, and only the publisher(s) make any money, which is what could/would happen if all works went immediately to public domain upon the author’s death.

Chris Allen says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Kill them All!

If it’s a song, book or a movie that you thought up and wrote. What’s wrong with extending their “copywrite” ? The only people who would object to this are the one’s wanting to capitalize off of someone else’s work. Now in Kentucky we call those folks “Ticks”, and they will suck the life out of what ever they attach themselves to. Sorry folks if that hurts your feelings but you have to call a spade a spade. I have no doubt you would be singing a different song if you were one of those artist.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Kill them All!

Yep, it’s completely impossible for anyone who created anything that may or may not be covered under copyright to disagree with you. And all people who want to limit copyright must be doing so for the exclusive reason to suck the life out of someone else, you know like the original writers of the US constitution.

Author here, not professional but still vary concerned about someone in a suit coming to my door with a summons for something that isn’t even close.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Re: Kill them All!

A three year, extendable “design” copyright for the time period between the inception of the work (when you get the idea for the song/book/etc) Extensions are given on a case-by-case basis.

If you don’t file for an extension and your 3 years runs out, it goes to the public domain.

When you have completed your work, file for a “product” copyright, which lasts 5 years from the date the application is granted, non-extendable.

The entire process is opt-in.

This would work well for patents, too, I think.

Anonymous Coward says:

“it’s hard to come up with any fathomable explanation for extending copyright and handing it to someone else unless you truly believed that copyright is a welfare system, rather than an incentive to create.”

I’m not really for strong copyrights or extensions, however, if I knew that I would be paid until I die for my music, that would be one hell of an incentive to become a pro musician.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re:

“that would be one hell of an incentive to become a pro musician.”

and create one thing and never raise a productive finger again?

On an unrelated note: Copyright presently lasts for life +70(?). If it’s extended to life +95, how are the original artists going to own the copyright for the added 25 years? I know this is the UK but I seem to remember the numbers being the same.

nostalgic says:

A split?

This split could work strongly against copyright extension. If the musicians are successful in making it to the public press, then it highlights the fact that the extension is not about the poor, starving musicians that the industry has used for previous extension campaigns. This makes it clear that the industry’s requests for extensions is about corporate greed, not musician’s poor, starving lifestyles.

If the musicians are the ones benefiting, corporate interests are not likely to use their bought-and-paid-for politicians to push the extensions through. There are plenty of corporate interests who would benefit by the copyright expiration, so perhaps the other side will prevail.

Of course, the most likely scenario is that the recording industry will somehow buy off the artists. Perhaps the artists will be able to sell their “extended” copyrights to the recording industry. The artists will get their usual peanuts-on-the-dollar (or pound or euro) and the industry remains in control.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's about the Mickey

It’s not about the musicians, it is about Mickey Mouse. Disney has been one of the leading proponents of copyright extension because it does not want its catalog of movies going public domain. They will still have their trademarks on things like Mickey Mouse, but they still have a lot to lose if they lose copyright.

I have a partial solution to the issue faced by Disney and others. At the end of the copyright term, let copyright owners extend the copyright at a significantly high price. The copyright on any work can be extended by the owner at $10,000 per year. Then it becomes a business decision. Is this item earning me more than $10K per year? If the answer is yes, then extend the contract. If the answer is no, then let the copyright expire. I would also include a provision that extended copyrights could not be transfered.

This isn’t a perfect solution. It means partially breaking the contract between the artist and the public, but it would allow the vast majority of items to go into the public domain.

Ryan says:

Re: It's about the Mickey

I don’t see any point to this proposal except that the largest companies would benefit from copyright more than the smaller entities, which is exactly the opposite of anything we’d want to do. Where does the $10,000 go to? The government? Great, now they have even more incentive to keep draconian copyright measures. And entire reason we’re talking about this in the first place, the public good, does not benefit a bit.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s hard to come up with any fathomable explanation for extending copyright and handing it to someone else unless you truly believed that copyright is a welfare system, rather than an incentive to create.

One salutory effect is that if implemented it would place the rights back in the hands of the original artists to the exclusion of the labels. In such an event the original artists would be positioned to come up with their own business models, something you continually advocate.

BTW, this use to be the general rule under US law before implementation of the Copyright Act of 1976. Renewal rights reverted back to the authors if renewal was exercised. It was only when the US signed on to the Berne Convention originally drafted in the late 1800’s that the “traditional contours of copyright” underwent a cardinal change in the name of international harmonizatio.

SteveD says:

Featured Artists Coillition

For those in the UK, Billy Bragg was talking up the FAC on Radio 4 last friday (20:40 in):

He doesn’t mention Copyright Extension but gives a bit of background to the work.

The thing that bugs me about the Coillition is it demonizes labels as a solution, then uses this moral high ground to demand they get paid by someone. That might get the fans on side but it does nothing to actually develop new business relationships.

Chris Swain says:


Billy Bragg and a bunch of other washed-up has-beens and also-rans have also been getting serious column inches in the Times newspaper in the UK whingeing about YouTube not agreeing to pay them.

They’ve their own website: I was tempted to pledge my support with a derogatory comment but don’t want to be claimed a supporter and don’t know if they’d post my comment.

The music industry has grown fat and lazy on a system whereby others who use their own resources to promote the music industry’s output reward the music industry for the privilege. A recent example: I happily pay my TV licence which supports the BBC, the other week all four BBC radio stations and peak viewing slots on the BBC1 TV channel featured U2 promoting their new album and single and the BBC pay them royalties from my licence fee each time their music gets played?

It’s time for a bl**dy revolution!

Chris Allen says:


If the copywrite extensions suggested here preserves the rights for the creators of the content why should anyone object. Unless that is you don’t want them to be paid for their creativity. Generally speaking the record labels have already skimmed off most of the cream. If you don’t want to allow the artist to make money from their creativity I guess you need to learn how to make your own music. Can no one create a business model that can accomodate the artist? Mercy!!

Ben (profile) says:


A question regarding this proposed reversion of rights to the musician(s)… which musician(s)? Composer? Lyricist? Arranger? Recording engineer(s)? Producer(s)? Session musician(s)? Featured artist(s)?

I include the recording engineer & producer roles because there are many cases where they have a very significant contribution to the final work – think of the likes of Phil Spector, Trevor Horn, or Stock, Aitkin & Waterman.

Sounds like a recipe for yet another round of painful court cases… and once more, the only winners are the lawyers.

Bruce A. (profile) says:

What's the point?

All the discussion regarding various methods of reforming copyright are interesting and there’s no question that some type of reform is long overdue. I personally believe you should be able to have some say over the use of your IP while you’re alive, but that it should probably end there.

But in a marketplace collapsing due to the “zero cost” factor, what does it really matter whether the time frame is 3 years or 73? If your IP is widely available at no cost within 3 days of release regardless of your legal rights, then you’re still left with the same underlying problem…

Time to change the business model, folks.

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