Ridiculous: Why Is Any Country Supporting Locking In Life + 70 Copyright Term Protection?

from the pure-insanity dept

One of the key issues raised by the head of the US Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, was that it was time to perhaps rethink our current copyright term of life plus 70 and lower it. There had even been some indications that even the maximalists at the MPAA and RIAA were actually (for the first time) open to the idea in her proposal to officially roll back the term to life plus 50 with the ability to “renew” for that last 20 years. When even the maximalists are making noises about reducing copyright terms, and Congress seems open to exploring the issue, you’d think that the folks over at the USTR wouldn’t be out there trying to lock us into international agreements that require life plus 70 as a minimum. But you’d be wrong.

The folks over at KEI are putting together a letter to TPP delegates as they go through the latest negotiation, asking them to reject the life plus 70 requirement, noting that many countries that have it today (including the US) have shown indications that they regret such a long copyright term:

There is no benefit to society of extending copyright beyond the 50 years mandated by the WTO. While some TPP countries, like the USA, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore or Australia, already have life + 70 (or longer) copyright terms, there is growing recognition that such terms were a mistake, and should be shortened, or modified by requiring formalities for the extended periods.

The primary harm from the life + 70 copyright term is the loss of access to countless books, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, films, sound recordings and other works that are “owned” but largely not commercialized, forgotten, and lost. The extended terms are also costly to consumers and performers, while benefiting persons and corporate owners that had nothing to do with the creation of the work.

Life+70 is a mistake, and it will be an embarrassment to enshrine this mistake into the largest regional trade agreement ever negotiated.

Unfortunately, it looks like the only one who had been really fighting back against this proposal was Canada, and the indications are that Canadian negotiators are about to fold and agree to the life plus 70 requirement. There’s a very important question here, which apparently no one in the USTR is willing to answer: why are they doing this? It makes no sense. All of the evidence suggests that having copyright this long has been bad for just about everyone, except perhaps Disney. The USTR has never even bothered to look at the issue, rather just accepting the idea that if the US currently has life + 70, it must lock that in permanently around the globe. Because.

It’s pure insanity in which the USTR continues to push for proposals that hurt American jobs, innovation and the public alike.

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Comments on “Ridiculous: Why Is Any Country Supporting Locking In Life + 70 Copyright Term Protection?”

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out_of_the_blue says:

I got this one covered! -- Because The Rich want it!

And you can’t deal with the systemic problem of The Rich owning the gov’ts and setting all the rules without even acknowledging that’s the major cause.

If you can free yourself for ten seconds from the indoctrination that even mention of the class struggle is communism, you’ll see that all forms of authoritarianism are simply The Rich waging class war.


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: I got this one covered! -- Because The Rich want it!

Because ootb declined the opportunity to create an account, somebody else did. Therefore, whenever he’s called out on some crap, he says it wasn’t him who posted it. There are some people who have posted comments under his “name” to mock him, so there are numerous people who have posted under that name.

He’s tried some very bizarre methods to counteract this (the “signature” with some random numbers that are apparently meant to “prove” it’s the “real” ootb – hint to that idiot, it does no such thing). But, he’s declined the very obvious methods to create an actual profile that would prove it’s him posting (e.g. creating a profile with a different username, even if he just uses dashes instead of underscores).

As for the “accuracy” of the above comment – even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and he tends to be a little more accurate when he’s attacking general conspiracy-minded principles rather than simply attacking Mike, TD or overall business strategies.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: I got this one covered! -- Because The Rich want it!

Mike doesn’t have anything to do with flagging/unflagging comments, that’s entirely community decided.

That said this does appear to be one of the rare times blue is on the money, he/she’s just poisoned their reputation so much that people no longer even listen to them, so it’s just a case of reaping what they sow.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I got this one covered! -- Because The Rich want it!

For a lot of people, pretty much, it’s very much a ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario, even when blue doesn’t post something trollish, at this point most people automatically assume any post by blue is going to be such, so they just click ‘Report’ automatically.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I got this one covered! -- Because The Rich want it!

You mean hide posts? That ‘nefarious’ action that is decided by the community when they see a post trollish or insulting enough that they mark it as such, until it reaches the threshold and is hidden so well that it takes the monumentally difficult action of… clicking once to reveal it?

If you don’t want to be sent to time-out over and over again, stop acting like a child with the ad homs, insults and name calling.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I got this one covered! -- Because The Rich want it!

An AC who hasn’t got a clue what censorship is. What a surprise. I suspect that if censorship actually existed here, we’d be free both of your crap and people hiding behind anonymity to post idiotic attacks. Fortunately for you, people here don’t support censorship, though sometimes it seems like it would be nice…

Anonymous Coward says:

And nearly 70 years later we’ll of course have to extend it to Life + 125 years or something like that. Because you know, people would never have created their famous works if they didn’t know that their great-great-great grandkids could still get rich off of it over a century or two after they’re dead.

We gotta keep those dead people innovating somehow.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That happens for a lucky few whose works resonate with culture. Its main impact is to prevent derivative works, and force more creators to become avant garde, which is usually a quick route to poverty, f lucky works that survive in private collections, built up by people who specialise in buying low and selling high.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People circumventing the idiocy of current copyright laws is being used as the excuse to curtail free speech, force other countries to abide by US law and stifle new and innovative business models that dare compete with the legacy players. Not to mention that art is being lost due to being orphaned and/or not commercially viable for restoration and preservation.

So, yes, copyright is not really enforceable on the general population, but the things being done in its name need to be addressed. The best way to do this is to correct the copyright laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

want to get the letter together in a fucking hurry then! they are supposedly trying to get TPP all signed, sealed and delivered this weekend!
as for the term, it’s only to benefit, obviously, the immediate relations, of the immediate relations, of the immediate relations and all the label superceders that go along.
as for the USTR, they are after anything that they can get, just to ensure that they instil their dictatorial attitude and that of the USG and entertainment industries heads on to everyone else possible! forcing deals through using threatening behaviour is bad enough, but this? it’s disgraceful! they need, like the NSA, masde to pay dearly for what they are doing with no thought whatsoever of the consequences to anyone!

OldGeezer (profile) says:


Let’s do some math. I am 61 and was 12 when I first heard the Beatles. Paul McCartney is 71. Let’s assume he lives to 80. (Year 2022). Ringo is only 2 years older so likely at least one of them will be alive at least until then, very possibly much longer. Plus 70 Years (2092). My son is 28. He would have to live to 107 to legally download “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. He has no children but let’s assume if he just had a child. My grandchild may be able to if he lives to nearly 80. Say he has a child at 25. Much of the music I listened to in my early teens will not be public domain until my great grandchild would be in his mid 50’s. AND THAT’S NOT LONG ENOUGH ALREADY?!!! Life plus 70 is an appropriate sentence for a serial child rapist, not for a song copyright.

Carlos Sol?s a.k.a. ArkBlitz (in the rest of the I (profile) says:

Re: Math

Now, let’s consider the intricacies required to license said song as public domain in every country in the world. It’s not pickiness, it’s literally required to supply network services worldwide in several cases. There are several countries with terms even longer than Life+70: Mexico (Life+100), Ivory Coast / C?te D’Ivoire (Life+99), Colombia (Life+80), Samoa, Honduras, Guatemala, and Saint Vincent and Grenadines (Life+75). If you or your children, grandchildren or greatgrandchildren happened to move to any of those countries, your greatgrandchild would be in his 80’s when said songs enter the public domain, and your greatgreatgrandchild (!) on his 55’s.

Jay (profile) says:

Corporate rights

I believe the best way to coin the term is to call copyright exactly what it is: Corporate Rights.

The public has rights to access information until they come under corporate right law.

For the past 50 years, that has been what corpoate rights have been all about. Extending copyright to the benefit of corporations. Fair use has been decimated with knowledge, innovation, and sharing the things most harmed.

What this has been is a way for the legacy studios and industries to control the past. They no longer have to compete with new competitors or new fields and shut down independent artists and writers who work outside of their systems of governance. That’s been the way to control the markets. Why can’t artists make money on Spotify? The market is controlled.

Why can’t people go to the big six publishers for a fair shake or deal? They’re too busy trying to collude with Apple to control the markets.

And why can the MPAA spy on people through TWC, force startup companies to shut down for innovative use of technology and basically resist any form of adaptation?

Again. Control.

And that control spreads to the TPP, India, Brazil, China, Australia, Belgium and other places where the individual rights of the public are trampled to give more and more rights to the corporations that have stagnated.

In WWI, we had that very same type of corporate governance that became unbearable on a country. It was called the Treaty of Versailles. Now we call it the corporate sovereingty of the TransPacific Partnership.

It was never about the control of the artists. It’s always been about the control of how much money the artists make. The more that goes to the legacy industries, the more stagnant we become.

The question isn’t “Why is any country supporting this?”

The question is “Why haven’t we stopped this corporate abuse of power?”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Corporate rights

All solid points, though to be even more accurate I’d suggest calling them ‘Corporate Privileges’, not ‘Rights’.

‘Rights’ implies they are for some reason owed such control, that it is their ‘right’ to have it, and that it would be inherently wrong to take the control the law gives them away from them, whereas ‘privilege’ describes it as it’s supposed to be, a temporary revocation of the public’s rights, in order to better serve and enrich the public through the increased creation of more works.

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