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.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “EU Getting Ready To Vote On Unnecessary Copyright Extension”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: 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!”.

Kevin (profile) says:

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.

misterdoug (profile) says:

Re: 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.

coldbrew says:

Re: 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.

misterdoug (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 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.

coldbrew says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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 🙂

fogbugzd (profile) says:

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.

charliebrown (profile) says:

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!

misterdoug (profile) says:

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.

Squirrel Brains (profile) says:

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…

Kevin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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?

charliebrown (profile) says:

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

Who do you agree with?

Squirrel Brains (profile) says:

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.

charliebrown (profile) says:

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!

Appleflap (user link) says:

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.

Frost (profile) says:

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.

Nicedoggy says:

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”.

Nicedoggy says:

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?

green2 (user link) says:

I know it is not good manner to advertise myself without approval on this site, but I am desperated and even if you don’t like what I say, please read and give me help. I made my mind to sell my virginity. If you have little time to read my story, please visit my blog( or email( me. If you are interested in taking my virginity, you are giving me hope and helping me. I even didn’t know that I became the one who leaves comment like this on where I used to enjoy reading articles. Please only send me email if you are interested. Don’t send me with disrespect words. I am sorry if you dont feel uncomfortable about this but at least hope you could understand how I am desperate.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...