Copyright Maximalists Just Won't Quit: Pushing New Monopoly Rights For Performers Through Sneaky Treaty Agreement

from the they-never,-ever-stop dept

One thing that is important to understand about IP maximalists and their strategy for continually expanding monopoly powers against the public’s fundamental rights is just what a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy it is. It’s not like they just try to pass a law like SOPA and are done. They’re constantly working a comprehensive global strategy. Part of that means trying to get similar laws passed around the globe. But, at the same time, they’re often working on a whole slew of international agreements as well. And while we’re now all aware of the big treaties — like ACTA and TPP — there are all sorts of other things going on all the time.

For example, it appears that some folks have been pushing — somewhat below the radar — another treaty agreement to create a new form of intellectual monopoly: performers’ rights (pdf and embedded below). There’s a meeting planned for June in China to try to push this through.

As you hopefully know, in the US copyright is affixed to new and creative works as soon as they’re put into a fixed form. But the copyright goes to whoever does that “fixing” or, on large productions, generally whoever is considered the “producer.” The specific actors in, say, a TV show, don’t get any specific rights in their performance. This makes sense. They’re paid to do a job, which they do. However, some countries grant performers a copyright in their performances, and this new treaty is an attempt to push such rights for “audiovisual performers”. As far as I can tell, this gives the performers in a work special new rights to stop how others use it. So, imagine a situation where someone wants to create a mashup video — and they even get permission from the copyright holder to use it. Under this treaty, they’d then also need to get permission from everyone who appears in the video too, or they’ll be violating that person’s “audiovisual performance rights”.

There are a variety of serious problems within the specifics, but just in general, why is this needed? It seems to serve no legitimate economic interest. All it does is create yet another category of monopoly rights that will certainly be abused to limit people’s abilities to express themselves. It also almost guarantees that more new audiovisual works will be locked up and lost to culture. Already we have a serious problem with orphan works where the copyright holder can’t be found. Imagine what happens when you need to find not just the copyright holder, but every single performer in the work and then secure a license from each of them. Yeah, basically every video will quickly become too expensive to ever use for anything, and thus it will be locked up.

Beyond that, there are some significant concerns in the details. Article 5 establishes “moral rights” in association with the economic rights. In the US, we’ve more or less (quite thankfully) ignored the requirement of the Berne Convention rules that say we need to recognize moral rights (to get around this, the US gives “moral rights” to a very, very tiny subset of artists). Moral rights, of course, are an idea built off of copyright, but rather than being about the economic incentives, they’re about letting people stop the use of something because they don’t like how it’s used. We see people try to misuse copyright law all the time today because they don’t like how a work is being used. The proper response is to let people know that’s not allowed — not to create new moral rights instead.

The agreement specifically states (in a footnote) that it shall apply to digital content online, including the requirement that performers have “the exclusive right of authorizing the direct or indirect reproduction of their performances.” In other words, forget making videos that include performances with anyone who hasn’t “licensed” you their performance right. How can the folks behind this not realize what kind of ridiculous problems this will cause? Take a video at a party of some people dancing — and unless you’ve “licensed” the work from every dancer, you may be in trouble.

And, like pretty much every IP-related treaty these days, this one includes a stupid, technologically-illogical clause demanding anti-circumvention laws — with no additional requirement that the only circumventions that apply are those that actually violate the other rights in the agreement. Instead, it’s the same overly broad anti-circumvention clause that takes away your fundamental rights.

The whole thing is quite ridiculous, and just shows the nature of maximalist thinking. All they look to do is to create more and more monopolies that limit free speech and communication. It’s really all about making the lawyers happier by creating more and more regulations for the kinds of things people do every day. Hopefully countries are smart enough to reject such a totally ridiculous concept, but from what we’ve heard, US officials are all for this garbage.

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Comments on “Copyright Maximalists Just Won't Quit: Pushing New Monopoly Rights For Performers Through Sneaky Treaty Agreement”

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Anonymous Coward says:

lazy bastards

nuff said subject says it all, they want something for ever and ever and ever and want to be as lazy at doing it as they can.

Example is most good tv shows now aren’t 26 episodes a year …no no they are 13 or 10 episodes a year….

What would that translate into for the actual work and pay is insane while the rest of us toil and slave away….

see last topic about used games its no different. BITE ME applies again….

Jason (profile) says:

I don't get it

Why would the studios and networks want this. Conceivably, this would allow an actor in a movie or TV show to halt the release of the show in other formats like DVD or digital download.

This would be mind-blowingly bad for the networks selling TV shows. How many shows have had actors quit on bad terms? Now this gives them the power to stop the distribution of the show in other formats?

Big Media would be monumentally stupid to allow this to go through, it is orders of magnitude more dangerous to them than this is to the regular consumer of the content, or even to people who mash up and remix the content.

Zakida Paul says:


Do you honestly believe that these companies give a damn about artists’ rights? You are delusional if you do. This whole thing is about controlling what we watch, and how and when we watch it. Oh, and charging us through the nose for the privilege while screwing authors, song writers, film makers etc over at every opportunity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rights for *everybody*, not just on screen tallent!!!

We shouldn’t limit this fuster cluck to just on screen talent, everybody should get rights!

Let’s see, a camera operator’s performance right, focus assistant’s performance right, spot light operator’s performance rights, video switcher performance rights (switcher solo!!!!), sound mixer’s performance rights. And not just for video, for blog’s two. Typist’s performing rights.



Just earn a SAG card.

Artists already have unions that have successfully negotiated these rights. That are a standard contract item. New laws don’t need to be created that will only serve to complicate the creation of new works and the distribution of old ones.

There are already old shows, movies, and documentary footage that are are being held hostage by the garden variety copyrights we already have.

bob (profile) says:

One more time

Copyright gives me a monopoly on what I create. It does not in any way reduce the speech rights of anyone else. It just prevents everyone else from copying me– and that’s not exercising a right to free speech. Free speech is when you express yourself, not copy someone else.

But I guess in your warped world, the folks on the P2P networks aren’t just “sharing”, they’re “expressing themselves as artists” or “commenting upon the human condition” or something even worse.

The next thing you know, you’ll want the Arts Agencies to give your P2P chums a big grant for creating so much art by uploading someone else’s work to the Internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you come up with some argument that schools should put the P2P network users on the same level as the original artist. You’ll insist that the art textbooks laud FatKevin44, the P2P uploader, in the same paragraph with Mozart or Michaelangelo. Only a copyright maximalist would deny the sheer genius of the fat slob who pushed that P2P button.

Lorpius Prime (profile) says:

I don't get it

At a guess: any actor in a movie or TV show will only get that job after signing a contract allowing the studios and networks to use their performance in whatever ways they want (and only those ways).

So the effect, presumably, would be to leave the big legacy producers unaffected, while creating a whole new way for anyone trying to reuse that material (both illicitly and under what has been fair use) to get sued.

Just my own quick impression, I’m nowhere near an expert.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

One more time

8/10. Very good!

False premise, followed by slippery slope, and then veiled ad hom with a little more slippery slope thrown in for good measure.

Well spoken, includes correct punctuation… yes, very good indeed.

Copyright gives me a monopoly on what I create. It does not in any way reduce the speech rights of anyone else.

Nice apples to squid comparison there. Let me fix that up for you:

Copyright gives me a temporary monopoly on what I create. It does this by reducing the rights of other people, namely their innate propensity to copy–which is a trait of all successful humans.

[citation needed or GTFO] says:


One thing that is important to understand about IP maximalists and their strategy for continually expanding monopoly powers against the public’s fundamental rights is just what a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy it is. It’s not like they just try to pass a law like SOPA and are done. They’re constantly working a comprehensive global strategy. Part of that means trying to get similar laws passed around the globe. But, at the same time, they’re often working on a whole slew of international agreements as well. And while we’re now all aware of the big treaties — like ACTA and TPP — there are all sorts of other things going on all the time.

When you put it that way, it makes the whole trying to fight back completely pointless. IP maximialists push against human rights advocates and vice versa. This whole conflict feels like an unstoppable meeting the immovable. There’s obviously no compromise because both sides believe they’re right, so collateral damage will keep piling up. Although there are claims that certain industries are dying, it’s only a matter of time before society adapts and there will be a new “greater threat to the public” to fight against.

The usual “trolls and shills” prove that this conflict will go on forever no matter how many victories and losses are tallied.

Do I have a point? Maybe, maybe not. I just find it interesting that in this far corner of the internet, a single blog sparking open debate about clashing ideals displays another example of human nature.

bob (profile) says:

One more time

Most people have no trouble getting copyright and religion to work together because they make a distinction between the work of God and the work of human. The former is held in the commonweal and the later is eligible for copyright.

But jokers and sophists always try to come up with religions that endorse things like killing people, taking drugs and having multiple wives. The courts have sent these folks to jail and not wasted much time on the so-called First Amendment rules.

But why don’t you test it out. I suggest you go for a home run and not bother with piddling copyright. Create a religion that compells you to rape and murder. See how far you get.

bob (profile) says:

One more time

Every law abridges our innate propensity to do something. That’s why we bothered to pass them. There aren’t laws forbidding you from holding your breath for a month because we don’t need them.

So every single law reduces what you call “rights”. This is why legal scholars don’t use that word for anything we feel like doing. They apply the word very narrowly and if you look carefully in the constitution you’ll find that nowhere does it use the word “right” for your “innate propensity to copy”.

bob (profile) says:

One more time

Society doesn’t lock up all of the materials. It just locks up exact copies. If I build something out of Lego blocks, I can copyright it. But I don’t get a copyright on the blocks and I have no control over how someone else uses Lego blocks.

I don’t know of any copyright scholar who thinks that a copyright on a building applies to the individual bricks.

Mega1987 (profile) says:

Those guys don’t want they performance of well known persons to be video and shared?

They’re reducing the number of fans knowing them.

And if they go in a world tour.

The biggest question that will hurt those performers are:
Who IS/ARE S/HE/They?

Oh thank you dumbasses…
You just made your stars less famous for the future generation with the exception of words of mouth, although there’s no audio or visual proof of your stars being good at something from it.


What next? Ban Seminars/Training classes/season?
Go to hell!

gorehound (profile) says:

lazy bastards

Being a guy who has played in rock bands since I was 16 years old in 1972 I am more than pissed at the stuff I keep reading again and again since the 1970’s.Always Big Studios taking advantage of guy’s like me in any way they can.Singing a Contract for an LP with a Major and then a few years later they drop you.So you still gig out only to find out in the small print you can not either use your band name nor can you sign with another label for many years afterwards.
The Best thing to do is to constantly remind people to Boycott All MAFIAA Products by never giving them a dime of your income in any way.Buy & definitely support INDIE Non-MAFIAA Products and tell your friends and family to join in.These Copyright Laws will hopefully go a long way towards the full demise of their greedy bloated lying Industry.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

This keeps happening...

…and it will keep happening until we push back. Right now we’re organizing and saying “no” and basically playing whack-a-mole, but that will only get us so far.

Until we advance legislation of our own that rolls back the abusive foundations laid by the DMCA, and affirms an ironclad foundation of due process for all infringement issues, the copyright industry will continue to erode our rights a little at a time.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:


Nobody hates artists’ rights more than you, Pirate Mike.

Nobody pirates more than you artists, right Mike? [Remixed]

I paid for that Pirate Mike, Mr. Green!!!! [Reagan riff]

Hey this is fun!

Copyright isn’t depressing, it’s corrosive to individuals and societies alike. It gives an expectation of entitlement to untalented hacks, and enables middlemen to assume an importance completely out of line with reality. Jesus, now I’m depressed.

Anonymous Coward says:

One more time

While Bobs sarcasm is dripping and he is a douche for using it in the first place, he has a point.

There are a lot of laws and some overlap. In many cases different laws can be violated at once: Some by both sides in a court case. In such cases the judge has to look at the significance of the different laws and determine which are the most important.

I do not know how it works in the uniteds but in my country there is an order of what laws are most important. As far as I know, the religious laws are about as low in the eyes of the court as they come. That is why Copymism will never trump copyright-laws in the court. The best you can hope for is a milder penalty in that case.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:


Bob….what do you think of the public domain, then? You seem to continuously leave the “temporary” part out of the monopoly and have thus far failed to recognize how much further copyright has been pushed since it’s inception.

As someone who simultaneously does NOT want to abolish copyright completely and who also has a keen interest in learning about the thoughts of the insane, exactly how long do you think copyright on a work should last?

Anonymous Coward says:

One more time

Dear Bob, in the real world just thinking of something and putting that crap on display doesn’t turn it into gold, you need to work the shit so it becomes gold that takes hard work which you are unwilling to undergo in order to reach a reward.

By stopping others from collecting that shit you first pollute the world with useless creations that you yourself da man with the shitty touch can only turn into crap reducing the chances that the one with the Midas touch can turn it into gold from which you would benefit if you fallowed his directions, without those directions you are just another crapper and that is all you will ever be. The guy who craps and turns everything to shit.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

One more time

Copyright gives me a monopoly on what I create. It does not in any way reduce the speech rights of anyone else.

As it’s root, you’re correct. However in implementation copyright laws certain reduce the rights — not just free speech rights, but property & other rights as well — of people who are not engaged in piracy.

But I guess in your warped world, the folks on the P2P networks aren’t just “sharing”, they’re “expressing themselves as artists” or “commenting upon the human condition” or something even worse.

Of course not. that’s not what the argument is about at all.

However, there is a tangentially related one: the P2P networks themselves. There is a strong effort to essentially render these services and software themselves illegal, despite the fact that they are widely used for completely legitimate purposes. That is, indeed, suppressing free speech rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

One more time

Surely if having no copyright is good enough for the supreme being, creator of all space and time, then it should be good enough for even bob.

I have heard though, while all the big G wants is to be credited as the creator of all things there are those who dispute his right to specific acts of creation, claiming for instance that human beings came about through evolution and not through a specific act of God, despite the stories.
Some judges are leaning towards granting his claim to have created the evolutionary process while others state that unless he can demonstrate that he did in fact create what others claim to be a natural process that no credit should be given.

Anonymous Coward says:

One more time

“If you were drowning in a pool due to your inability to swim and somebody was trying to save you I’ll bet you’d tell “no, thanks. I’m fine.”

Sheesh! As if he’d say thanks!

He’d be far more likely to try to tell you that it’s all your fault that he is drowning and throw in some dodgy claims about big search.

dwg (profile) says:

One more time

Utter fail. And, in fact, check out any litigation with the name “Lego” in it and you’ll see your failure. Lego has won 300 of 301 UDRP proceedings against URLs using the word “Lego,” despite many of those being accurate descriptions of hose sites’ contents and not infringing trademark uses. But I digress into trademark. Only fair, since you folded in patents without saying so.

But to back up, your use of “exact” is wrong: copyright reserves not only the making of exact copies to the holder, but also to the making of “derivative works”–in other words, works that incorporate the original in some way. Do you know the “Air Pirates” case? Check it out. I actually think you know this stuff, but are playing dumb–that you’re trying to paint a happier face on your side of things than it deserves.

And to go with your building/bricks analogy: when your “building” is a song, and your “bricks” are, let’s say, short sequences of notes–unavoidable in the making of a song, usually–then do you still rely on your imaginary copyright scholar to say you’re safe using those “bricks?” How many notes equals a brick?

Please don’t try to oversimplify to make kids pet the bear. It’s a bear.

Anonymous Coward says:

One more time

Because the constitution is man made and falable, but make no mistake the US constitution grants the people the power to defend their beliefs in any way deemed necessary, that is why you need to build consensus so you don’t find yourself in the bob’s position of whining loser minority trying to impose monopolies on the rest of society

dwg (profile) says:

Not sure your read of this proposal is right.

I know that, on its face, this thing looks like it’s giving rights to every performer in everything that could be argued a performance. And I know that there’s no precedent for things like this being implemented in a restrained fashion. But I’m going out on a limb here and am going to argue that the rights this thing is concerned with are live music, with perhaps a nod to live theater just to keep this all heady. I mean, right, though? Isn’t this whole thing to stop (1) concert-goers from using their phones to record concert footage of Katy Perry and (2) then send it to their friends? That seems like the root and really the whole of it to me. I’m way less worried about some chick from a party suing me because she’s dancing in the corner of a video I post. There are things that concern me and things that don’t–and that one don’t.

What do concern me, though, is the idea that one of the very few absolute requirements for a work to be protectible by copyright is being eaten by this proposal–fixation. The paradigmatic examples of works not covered by copyright for lack of fixation–improvisational dance, a speech not written down–these things would now be covered by this proposal and exclusive rights given to and regarding unfixed expressions. Coming next–no need for expression:

“The haver of an idea shall enjoy the exclusive right of authorizing, as regards the idea: (i) the broadcasting and communication to the public of the idea, except where the idea has already been fixed in a tangible medium of expression; and (ii) the fixation of that idea in a tangible medium of expression.”

The Moondoggie says:


“Nobody hates artists’ rights more than you, Mike”
“Nobody hates artists’ rights more than you, Pirate Mike”

Lemme try:

Nobody hates Pirates’ rights more than you, artist Mike
Nobody hates Mike’s rights more than you, Pirate Artist
Nobody hates Mike’s pirates more than you, artist rights

~Trying so hard not to giggle

Anonymous Coward says:


>An artist’s ability to breath has no effect on the strength of the copyright.

Did you just effectively attempt to support copyright that lasts forever as a reasonable thing, given that it applies regardless of whether the author is alive or not?

Oh, wait, but coming from you it’s no surprise. How’s the negotiations with John Steele coming along, bobby?

Laroquod (profile) says:

“How can the folks behind this not realize what kind of ridiculous problems this will cause?”

Oh, they realise. It’s called ‘culture jamming’. If they could turn off sharing culture they would. Tying it up in liability is the next best thing. Just remember: all the technologies they are breaking? They never wanted those technologies in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

FIA, FIAPF, And so e of otherfilm and video associations,including the US, Mexico, Nigeria, and even Kenyan Govts pushed for this. They worked very hard behind the scenes while a small group of other developed and developing countries pushed for this. Complicit on this was the WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. His main goal is to show he has the power to coerce Govts and industry in to a Treaty. He aims for a Broadcastingtreat next year. The lobbyists, I clouding MPAA are very visible at WIPO and you can be sure that they are the rig leaders in all of this. The Chinese invited the SCCR members to China to show that they too can have a treaty and are committed to copyright reform. Counties are hypocritical – on the one hand they decry the prac in the outer and on the other spend over a million dollars to hold a diplomatic conference there. Worse, it is the same organization that defends giving equipment to North Korea knowin full well of their human rights violations – gulags of over 150 to 200 thousand men, women and children imprissoned. To make matters worse no one (except Fox news ( and don’t decry the source)) speaks about the travesty of breaking UN sanctions. And worse still, this Gurry person now heads the UN chief managers Board. It is time that the is accountability of UN personnel, lobbyists, and goats I. How they shape laws that more often than not, reduce the public commons. Please do all re-ACT to his Treaty as should it be supported will entail that performers, including musicians, may have to transfer their performance right to producers – who in turn would hold exclusivity in the use of their performances. ….. Read the draft text carefully ….

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