New Zealand Confirms That TPP Would Extend Copyright Terms In Many Countries, Block US Plans To Reduce Terms

from the total-failure dept

Previously leaked reports and drafts of the TPP agreement had showed that the US and Australia were strongly pushing other countries to extend the minimum copyright terms to “life plus 70 years,” up from the international norm of “life plus 50 years.” Mexico was actually pushing for life plus 100 at one point. This seemed bizarre to us. It’s hard to see how anyone could legitimately support extending copyright terms, but the USTR refused to back down. This made no sense, given that here in the US, as we undergo a major copyright reform effort, even the head of the US Copyright Office has admitted that perhaps it’s time to start moving back towards life plus 50 years here in the US.

So, now with the TPP concluded and no one willing to release the actual text, New Zealand has at least admitted that it and Canada caved and agreed to put “life plus 70” into the TPP.

TPP requires New Zealand to move to 70 years as well, but allows for a transition to do this over time.

This change could benefit New Zealand artists in some cases, but the benefits are likely to be modest. Extending the copyright period also means New Zealand consumers and businesses will forego savings they otherwise would have made from books, music and films coming off copyright earlier. The net cost of extending New Zealand?s copyright term from 50 to 70 years will be small to begin with and increases gradually over 20 years, reaching a relatively constant level after that. Over the very long term, including the initial 20-year period, the average annual cost is estimated to be around $55 million.

This is hugely problematic and, once again, shows how even if the TPP doesn’t directly require changes to current US law, at the very least it locks in a very dumb provision that the US has already expressed interest in changing. And now we won’t be able to because an unelected bureaucrat, negotiating behind closed doors with help from the MPAA & RIAA, pushed through provisions like this one.

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Comments on “New Zealand Confirms That TPP Would Extend Copyright Terms In Many Countries, Block US Plans To Reduce Terms”

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51 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It may as well be. At life+70, virtually nobody who was born when the art was created will still be alive when it enters the public domain. Add to that the constant increases to copyright length – applied retroactively of course – and we’re only a couple of extensions to ensure nobody is legally able to access the culture of their great-great-grandparents.

Apart from the stuff that’s still profitable for a cartel corporation, of course, which is the point of all this. They wish to lock up 99.99% of human culture so they can profit from the 0.01% that’s still viable a couple of generations later. Usually in violation of the agreement in place when it was created.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Don’t be silly. No work created today or in the past 50 years will ever enter the public domain. They will just keep extending the term of copyright.

It’s amusing to see a company like Disney push for longer copyright when it relied heavily on the public domain for content during it’s formative years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you operate profitably inside a time-limited system, you will naturally fight for extentions. It is basic economy. Since culture is also an extremely large export for USA and these companies pay taxes in USA, it is only natural for negotiators to do the real-political calculations on what laws to push through in other countries to get the best deal. It is at best a zero-sum move with these law constricting agreements, but modern agreements are very light on trade and heavy on legal shackles.

In mother USA, company legislate government!

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Thus it’s only natural people ceased to respect it regularly.

Isn’t it interesting that those enacting/buying legislation proscribing copyright infringement are driving more and more towards copyright infringement as their preferred mode of acquisition of content? It’s almost like the lawyers and bought politicians are actively working against those bribing them.

Curious. The lawyers and politicians must be giggling their heads off in private.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Because they still have to pretend that copyright is meant to serve the public.”

I think they stopped pretending that long ago. I can’t ever remember ever hearing copyright supporters talk in terms of serving the public, only serving themselves. Some have genuine self-interest for their art, some are just greedy corporates and control freaks, but they never talk about benefits to the public.

That One Guy (profile) says:

You answered your own question

This seemed bizarre to us. It’s hard to see how anyone could legitimately could support extending copyright terms, but the USTR refused to back down.

Indeed, wonder why they would be so insistent on sticking to the current duration as it stands in the US currently?

Ah yes, probably because of this:

This made no sense, given that here in the US, as we undergo a major copyright reform effort, even the head of the US Copyright Office has admitted that perhaps it’s time to start moving back towards life plus 50 years here in the US.

By insisting that life+70 years is included, they keep the law from potentially being changed in the US, as to do so would ‘violate our international obligations’.

This change could benefit New Zealand artists in some cases, but the benefits are likely to be modest.

I’d love to see them try and defend this claim, given copyright already lasts for the artist’s entire lifetime, plus fifty years, and last I checked, once you’re dead, all the money in the world means squat, so how exactly is adding twenty years to the duration supposed to help the artist?

Honestly, at this point they should just admit that they don’t give a damn about the artists or other creators, and that the laws are solely for the parasites that don’t create anything but legal fees. A corpse gets zero benefit from being able to collect fees for an additional twenty years, but the parasite who owns the corpse’s copyrights certainly does.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You answered your own question

I’d love to see them try and defend this claim, given copyright already lasts for the artist’s entire lifetime, plus fifty years, and last I checked, once you’re dead, all the money in the world means squat, so how exactly is adding twenty years to the duration supposed to help the artist?

Well, it helps the artists heirs, as the copyright becomes part of his estate.

David says:

Re: Re: You answered your own question

But since the artist has no way of knowing that it helps the artist’s heirs (being dead), and since he did not factor in the copyright extension when negotiating with the record company, the prospect of posthumous copyright extensions could not possibly have motivated him to work harder for his heirs.

Posthumous copyright extensions are unilaterally robbing the public from works they could otherwise freely access in order to benefit people who don’t contribute to the arts.

This is stealing from the deceased artist and unilaterally reneging from the deal that he was paid for.

JMT says:

Re: Re: You answered your own question

“Well, it helps the artists heirs, as the copyright becomes part of his estate.”

Actually it mostly it helps the copyright owners, which are usually not the artist or their heirs.

But even if you’re right, WHY?! Can anyone explain why artist’s heirs should be supported by copyright? Can you think of any other group that has legal protection of their heirs’ future income?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: You answered your own question

Because artists don’t make any money and spend their whole creative life being shat on they have nothing worldly to pass on to their heirs. But because nothing sells like a dead musician their heirs stand to have something of an inheritance.
Not that getting the rights to a bunch of songs that you still have to hawk around to capitalise on is any kind of inheritance, not compared to a house, a car and a bank account with money in it.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You answered your own question

“Because artists don’t make any money and spend their whole creative life being shat on they have nothing worldly to pass on to their heirs.”

So what? You could say that about lots of people in other professions. Nobody should be owed an inheritance.

“But because nothing sells like a dead musician their heirs stand to have something of an inheritance.”

Only a tiny fraction of dead musicians are in that category.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You answered your own question

Wait, so your argument is that artists don’t make money until they’re dead and therefore? Because that not only makes no sense but is counter to reality.

Face it – most musicians whose work is going to sell when they’re dead had also sold a reasonable amount alive. You don’t find singles that didn’t get into the top 40 originally suddenly rocketing up the charts because the previously unknown artist died – and even then it’ll be the name lead singer whose death leads to further sales (for example), not the session musician who created the memorable riff. I dare you to name any musician who was literally unknown during his lifetime, but whose work sold significant enough amounts to pass as a decent inheritance. If you can name one, it’s likely to be a musician who died shortly after their work was created, meaning it was his death and not lack of copyright that left their heirs wanting.

If those musicians were successful, usually the reason why they fail to have the house, car and bank account to pass on to heirs is because they either squandered their income when they had it, or got screwed by an accountant/record label. neither is an argument to withhold work from the public to whom it was promised on creation.

This is a losing argument in one other significant way – most of what you said is applicable to most other professions. Yet, nobody else is insisting that work those other people did decades before their death should still be providing new income to heirs. Add to that the fact that much of the time it’s a corporation rather than a relative who benefits, and these are very weak arguments.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You answered your own question

Face it – most musicians whose work is going to sell when they’re dead had also sold a reasonable amount alive.

For popular music. Now take a look at Bach’s mass in B minor which has been called by several people the greatest work of music ever written. The first time it was actually performed completely was about 80 years after Bach was dead, dead for longer than he had lived before.

And the reason for that is that a great Catholic Mass in old rite composed by a Protestant church musician was unperformable in Catholic churches, unperformable in Protestant churches, and for a long time unperformable in secular settings.

So does this call for life+90 years of copyright? Heck no. Bach would not have profited from it, no musically active heirs of his were around anymore, and even in its unpublished state the manuscript would be mottled with copyrights from earlier published works of his which he “parodied” into a new whole. Handwritten copies of the manuscript were in possession of several high-ranking composers in Europe and held in high esteem. Times changed and eventually it became publishable in more than single copies.

All of the great competing music publishing houses have competed with diligent editions of the great composers and thus developed their renown. If every publisher securing the rights to the works of a composer could just have locked down his works instead of competing on the music edition’s merits, we would not have high quality editions to choose from.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You answered your own question

“The first time it was actually performed completely was about 80 years after Bach was dead, dead for longer than he had lived before.”

So, copyright was irrelevant then, even if it had lasted as long as being proposed now. I see you agree with me for the most part here, but the dullard I was addressing is trying to argue something else.

Obviously, I was asking for examples where the copyright would have benefited. In fact, the Bach example above is a possible example of how copyright could potentially damage rather than help culture – would the piece have been performed if those interested in doing it knew they had to clear copyright from Bach’s estate or track down an unknown 3rd party who had inherited it? It may well have sat in a vault unknown by any audience instead, and thus humanity would have lost the greatest piece ever written by those peoples’ standard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You answered your own question

They’re not saying it ‘will’ benefit NZ artists, they’re saying it ‘could, modestly’.

My take on that, as a New Zealander, is that the government is well aware that the market in NZ for the music and films of dead people is nearly non-existent. This is largely because the NZ music industry hardly existed until the 1980’s, and even now, partly because of physical isolation, tiny market, and our ‘make-do’ culture produce very few breakthrough hits.
Most NZ artists produce esoteric music for small audiences and have as little chance of selling a record when they are dead as when they were alive.
I could give you a list of active NZ bands, and I guarantee you wouldn’t be able to find even 5% that are even having their music pirated.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s what we already have. When nothing created during your lifetime will enter the public domain while you are still alive, for all intents and purposes copyright is essentially eternal. Doesn’t matter if it’s life plus 70 years or 700, if it lasts longer than you live, it’s permanent with regards to you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And the more important part is: if it is longer than most people live, that means that the content will only ever enter the social domain under singly-controlled ownership — and since the owners have a vested interest in continually adding new content to the social domain, they’ll just stop making the old content available to make room for the new.

As a result, we end up with a continually expiring social consciousness. This has only started happening in the past few years, as the 1970s copyright laws have started hitting best before dates and content has started vanishing that helped form the social consciousness of an entire generation.

Think about that. It’s the beginning of the digital dark age.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You couldn’t be more wrong, there is more music of the 70’s available now than there was in the 70’s, some really cool shit that fell under the radar at the time and has been released, not to mention the live records and bonus tracks.
And people are still playing all that old vinyl too.

http://poly-graph.co/timeless/

This guys been playing with the data from spotify and billboard, and looking at the timelessness of music. The play counts for the 70’s are pretty high. 32 mil plays for the most played track and nearly 4 mil for the 200th most played track.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I ran into music videos and songs on Youtube that got taken down by UMG and can not be found anywhere. There are out of print books that can be difficult to find as well (if not impossible), even books from the 1990s. Future generations will be completely denied these by the time they enter the public domain or won’t even know they ever existed and there won’t be any circulating copies left. There should be a use it or lose it clause (one that resists the possibility of copy protection holders ‘selling’ two copies to a ‘shell’ or a ‘friend’ or ‘ally’ and claiming they are ‘using’ it).

Anonymous Coward says:

Another TPP topic that could affect New Zealand

Another TPP topic that could affect New Zealand, considering yesterday’s Techdirt article on the “Tobacco Carve-out” is whether the TPP might contain any kind of similar “Gun Carveout” that prevents companies suing over future government regulations. Or could U.S. manufacturers such as Colt or Smith & Wesson sue New Zealand over future (and highly likely) gun restrictions, just as tobacco companies have done, but will now be prevented from doing under the TPP?

New Zealand is –like the United States — a country with many guns in civilian hands. It’s a somewhat delicate situation that’s likely to change if US-style mass-shootings ever become popular, and it remains to be seen what the gun manufacturers (especially US companies) will do to fight the prospect of gun control in New Zealand.

These international trade agreements like the TPP could very well address the issue of gun restrictions, an action that either way is sure to anger one side or the other in the pro-gun vs. anti-gun debate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Another TPP topic that could affect New Zealand

Actually, here’s one of the things that seems silly to me about the tobacco carve-out:

In most situations, the treaties that enabled the tobacco lawsuits aren’t going anywhere. So the TPP won’t allow them to carry out the suits, but that’s OK for them, because there are still treaties on the books that allow it, and the TPP doesn’t block those; it just doesn’t enable them under its own treaty.

Yeah. It’s all political posturing. This is why you haven’t seen Big Tobacco getting all up in arms about the carve out in the TPP: they lose (almost) nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

when are governments and law makers gonna be called out for doing everything they can to aid these ridiculous extensions to copyright, when there is absolutely no benefit whatsoever to anyone, the artists in particular, except the heads of the various studios? this conduct does more harm than good and for the studios to continuously want the terms ramped ever upwards is a testament to their total lack of concern for anyone but themselves.

David says:

Well, you need to balance interests of different artists

On the one hand, you have living artists who now have to forego 20 years of history in the arts as an inspiration to draw from. It is true that those stand to lose work material essential to our culture and with moderate age.

But on the other hand, think of all the inspiration this will provide to artists who were bereft of the proceeds from their past work just 50 years after their demise and who were forced to stop composing and start decomposing because they could no longer afford light and heating and an internet connection in their coffins! Our hopes for tolerable music certainly are better placed with them than with today’s composers. They have by far the best skills of leading their own work onwards and should not be deprived of the means to do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, you need to balance interests of different artists

“you have living artists who now have to forego 20 years of history in the arts as an inspiration to draw from”

Artist already ‘draw’ from that, that’s how the process of influence works. You’re talking about out and out sampling, using the actual recording. The people that do that already do that, and most of them don’t end up in court.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Artists aren’t supposed to make a profit: they sign on with a copyright vault who provides access to their entire portfolio up front (for an uncollected fee), and then they assign all of their copyrights over to the group, and work to pay off the debt they now owe the organization.

That way, you can remix/rework/borrow from all the music in the portfolio, because it all belongs to the one group. And if you ever DO pay off your debts and try to leave….

Well, let’s just say you won’t be able to take anything with you — possibly even your stage name.

kadmos1 (profile) says:

I would put the copyright

I would put the copyright length at 50 years maximum and no extensions are allowed. If the creator dies before 50 years pass, the length is # of years passed before they died+ # of years left until it equals 50. For example, dying at 25 years in means it’s 25 more years until the public domain kicks in.

With this, each and every copyright they had tied a specific work (for a movie, the script, music, etc.) all becomes public domain at the same time.

All of the above also would apply to trademarks.

andy says:

Funny

Yeah they said this type of thing would never happen, never would they force a country to change there laws no way never feel safe supporting the agreement, and days after it is ratified suddenly all those fears everyone had about it are proven real beyond any doubt, but what can we do what can anyone do.

One thing that toatally destroys this agreement is that the majority now ignore copyright laws, the majority around the world 6 billion and counting are ignoring any form of copyright law. And that is the crux, when the majority of people decide a law is inconsistent and stupid they ignore it and it is time to actually remove the crap from that law and ensure people can at least respect it , if even only a minority do now that we know for a fact that the middlemen skimming off the top 99% of profits are the ones making the laws.

No content creator benefits from life + 70. Not one person so it is safe to ignore as a court would shut down any case the middlemen try to use against you.

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