Kiwi Musician Says Public Domain Only Exists So You Can 'Rip Off Dead People's Works'
from the someone-send-him-a-copy-of-james-boyle's-book dept
Here’s a brief article from New Zealand, which suggests that part of the US’s proposal for the TPP agreement is to extend copyrights across the various participating countries to life plus 70 years — what it already is in the US, but 20 years longer than it is in many countries. That’s not too surprising. However, what struck me was a quote from New Zealand musician Ray Columbus who appears to be in favor not just of extending copyright, but of wiping out the public domain entirely:
“Some people believe in public domain. Why? Just so you can rip off dead people’s works? That’s pathetic.”
No, Ray, what’s pathetic is not knowing how culture works, and the importance of building on those who came before. Having never heard of Ray Colombus, I decided to look around — and lo and behold, it appears that in his younger days Columbus recognized this. An interesting bio of Columbus reveals that his band, Ray Columbus and the Invaders, was originally a cover band who copied their dance moves (and, yes, as crazy as it seems, dance moves can be covered by copyright) from American servicemen on leave in New Zealand. Oops.
Other bios note how strongly he was influenced by other artists, such as Elvis, Cliff Richard and the Beatles. His one big hit, She’s a Mod, is a cover song. Yes, it was licensed, but apparently the changes they made to the song were basically to copy things from the Beatles. And that’s fine, because the fact is, people build on culture. It’s not just about “ripping off” others. So it’s rather hypocritical of Columbus to decry others for the same practice.
What it comes down to is that poor Ray Columbus seems to think copyright is a welfare system because he apparently failed to invest wisely or plan for retirement:
When 60s pop star Columbus suffered a stroke nearly four years ago, he was able to pay the bills because every time a song he has performed gets played, he still collects a fee.
“The performing fees I get give a dribbling of an income that’s so important to artists.”
How is that fair compared to most other professions? The bricklayer who has a stroke isn’t able to pay the bills because by collecting a fee every time someone uses a building he built. No, the bricklayer and pretty much everyone else in every other profession has to actually save money and plan for their future. What makes Columbus so special that he gets to skip over that part?