Recording Industry Whines That It's Too Costly To Keep Copyright Terms At Life Plus 50, Instead Of Life Plus 70

from the wait,-what? dept

Okay. I’ve heard lots of crazy arguments from the record labels, but I may have found the craziest. We’ve discussed how ridiculous it is that the TPP includes a provision saying that every country that signs on must make sure the minimum copyright term is life plus 70 years. This will impact many of the countries that negotiated the agreement, which currently have terms set at life plus 50. This was a key point that the recording industry and Hollywood fought hard for. When even the Copyright Office recognizes that life plus 70 is too long in many cases, the legacy industries recognized that getting copyright term extension through Congress in the US might be difficult — so why not lock stuff in via international agreements?

And, of course, the USTR was fine with this, because the USTR goes along with basically everything that Hollywood asks for. But here’s the crazy part: having gotten such a ridiculous thing, the recording industry is whining about its own victory. As Kimberlee Weatherall points out, the recording industry in New Zealand is bitching about the fact that the change doesn’t go into effect immediately because it’s “too costly” for copyright holders.

That’s because the TPP has a “phase-in period” that allows countries to adjust and gradually move copyright terms upwards. But the record labels are having none of that:

Meeting before a parliamentary committee this week, Recorded Music chief executive Damian Vaughan said his advocacy group supports an article in the TPP deal that standardizes the terms of protection of a work to the life of an author plus 70 years. (New Zealand is one of several participating nations that currently has a term of 50 years after death.) However, Vaughan thinks a proposed phase-in period for nations upgrading to 70 years is unnecessary and a costly burden for rights holders.

“It’s not making copyright simple or easy to understand to the music user or the public whatsoever,” he said, according to RadioNZ. “It is making the process significantly more complicated, and it’s the rights organizations and the copyright holders who will be forced to administer this? We note the cost we incur will be far higher than any perceived cost savings.”

Now, think about what Vaughan is really saying here. Let’s be clear: copyright term extension is deliberately removing these works from the public domain. When they were created, a deal was struck between the public and the content creator. That deal said “this work goes into the public domain, but to give you incentive to create it in the first place, we’ll give you some limited exclusive rights for this amount of time.” That’s the deal that was struck. But, now, with copyright term extension, that deal gets thrown out, screwing over the public. They don’t get anything back despite the fact that material that was destined for the public no longer is. So there’s a massive cost to the public and no payment whatsoever. That’s problematic alone.

And to make things even more obnoxious, Mr. Vaughan is whining that not being able to fuck over the public fast enough is unfair because it puts too much “cost” on the record labels? REALLY? Boo fucking hoo. You were the ones who pushed for extending copyright terms, and now you want to whine that it might be too costly to administer the process? Fine, fuck it. Let’s just toss out the extension and maybe consider decreasing copyright terms overall. That’ll give the record labels a lot less to administer, saving them lots and lots of money. Oh, and also giving the public what they were promised. Seems like a good deal all around.

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Comments on “Recording Industry Whines That It's Too Costly To Keep Copyright Terms At Life Plus 50, Instead Of Life Plus 70”

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TheResidentSkeptic says:

Let's play with the math...

50 years ago was 1966. Let’s say musicians lived to 60, and were at their peak at 1/2 that age. So take another 30 off, and we’re talking the music of 1936.

What is the expected market for that? They really think they have to go back another 20? To the greatest hits of 1916?

I can’t wait for the re-masters of those albums to hit the market…Those Flappers of the 1920’s and their music were the cats meow…or the bees knees… or something nearly as stupid as life+70.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

Except this is very much related to the article, and the problem of copyright terms being so absurd.

If even stuff from nearly a century ago are STILL covered under copyright then how can we expect to live long enough to see the copyright on new content made today expire?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

Why do you pretend to care?

It’s not like there’s something you want there that you don’t have access to.

But please, don’t stop this hilarious ditch digging, I’m not the least bit tired of the amusement. Everybody just rolls their eyes and snickers every time you guys go down this road.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

Still projecting your (digital) sticky fingers on to everyone else are we? Tisk tisk, really now if you wan’t to go about downloading all the newer songs/movies/stuff knock yourself out, but blaming everyone else for the same and asserting that everyone else does as you do is just tacky.

If no-one cares about stuff made that long ago, then why the fight to make sure that it never enters the public domain? What, is it just habit by now to screw over the public and make sure that copyright is as close to being eternal as you can manage it?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Let's play with the math...

Pretend? Oh my no, I’m much worse than a pirate, I’m one of those people that took the ‘Buy on their terms or do without’ line that I’ve seen bandied about and ran with it.

I’m someone that does without.

See a pirate, they know about the newest and upcoming films, the newest music from the label musicians, the newest shows on tv. They know and they care, otherwise they wouldn’t bother downloading the stuff. As such while they’re not paying now there’s a good chance they’ll do so in the future.

Me though? I couldn’t care less about any of that, as I get my entertainment from sources that offer it on my terms, meaning I’m as likely to buy that rubbish as I am to download it, which is to say not at all. I’ve no problem throwing money at good entertainment, whether that be in books, music or whatnot, I just don’t throw it at the crap shoveled out by the parasites that hold me in contempt and make the hilariously wrong assumption that I not only care about what they throw out I care enough to go out of my way to download it.

However we’re getting off topic from your sticky fingers regarding stuff I couldn’t care less about, so I’ll ask again: If no-one cares about the stuff created that long ago, why the push to make sure that it never enters the public domain? If something created more than a lifetime and a half ago is really not that big of a deal let it enter the public domain instead of wasting all the time and effort convincing politicians that an extra two decades of incentive is just what the corpses need to start writing/composing/creating again.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

Fun fact: Bach wrote quite a bit of stuff that went unpublished and/or unperformed. The first full performance of his Magnum Opus, his last major completed work, the Mass in B minor, happened a longer time after his death than he actually lived (something like 80 years or so I think). A Catholic Mass in old rite, unperformable at the time it was written (since neither Catholic let alone Protestant churches would allow for a mass in that form, and the secular performance of sacred works was not possible for a general audience and hardly financeable on that scale with a semi-sacred performance for a private audience): this clearly was not written as a money-maker for some remote heir but as a musical heritage of a man at the end of his creative life span (his ailing eye sight would have made composing in the style of his employment increasingly harder, and he died from the complications of a cataract operation).

Had Bach passed beyond the Mickey Mouse line, his ultimate spiritual and musical heritage would never have entered the public domain but be paywalled away forever for the benefit of people he had nothing to do with.

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

Actually, I like swing music, which comes from that era. But yes, not only is there no reason for musical works from 1936 to be copyrighted still, there is also no reason for musical works from the 1980s to be copyrighted still. A maximum overall term of 25 years is probably more than generous. Whether people are alive or dead makes no difference. Copyright terms should be based on simple terms of years, not lifespans.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

…nobody reading this gives a damn about stuff recorded in 1936.

Except for the people who are fighting tooth and nail for longer and longer copyright terms right? You realise you just completely contradicted your own argument?

If “nobody gives a damn” about the old stuff, why isn’t copyright limited to 20 or 50 years instead of potentially over 150?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

The whole basis behind Hillary Clinton temporarily switching her position to oppose TPP to get ahead of Bernie Sanders is because the people are sick and tired of overreaching IP and especially copy protection laws.

Yet the government and the MPAA continues to push for these laws that no one else wants.

You don’t care about democracy, you don’t care about the public interest, you don’t care about the artists or the quality of works. The only thing scumbag like yourself has ever cared about is yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Let's play with the math...

“nobody reading this gives a damn about stuff recorded in 1936.”

This is provably a lie. As others have pointed out if this were true you (and the RIAA/MPAA) would be in favor of shortening copy protection lengths to something more reasonable, like 10 years. If no one cares about older works then there is no point in still having them protected. The reason for lobbying for their continued protection is exactly because people still do care about them.

It’s hard to fathom how you can possibly think that coming over here and telling obvious lies is going to somehow gain you any support. So far it’s obviously not working, the people are substantially against our IP laws and the TPP (see previous post for example).

The only thing you are doing is making yourself, and your selfish cause, look dishonest and foolish. Dishonest for telling such obvious lies. Foolish for believing that anyone is possibly going to believe any of your foolish and obvious lies. What can possibly be going on in that dumb head of yours? I really don’t understand how you can possibly think you are doing your cause any good?

Anonymous Coward says:

The deal with the public was destroyed

Copyright was supposed to be something that incentivized peopled to release new work, based on old work. Now we are no longer being allowed to use old work to create new work. Content creation is not something only certain people are allowed to do. If you keep trying to lock up the creative works of mankind, you will find yourself as extinct as the dodo.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The deal with the public was destroyed

Copyright was supposed to be something that incentivized peopled to release new work, based on old work.

Justice Ginsburg, writing for the court in Eldred v Ashcroft (2003)

We can demur to petitioners’ description of the Copyright Clause as a grant of legislative authority empowering Congress “to secure a bargain — this for that.”

(Emphasis added.)

Merriam-Webster: demur (verb):

: to disagree politely with another person’s statement or suggestion

: to politely refuse to accept a request or suggestion

“We can demur to petitioners’ description of the Copyright Clause…”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The deal with the public was destroyed

Copyright was supposed to be something that incentivized peopled to release new work, based on old work.

Justice Ginsburg, writing for the court in Eldred v Ashcroft (2003)

Justice Ginsburg, again writing for the court, this time in Golan v Holder (2012)

Petitioners’ ultimate argument as to the Copyright and Patent Clause concerns its initial words. Congress is empowered to “promote the Progress of Science . . .”

They [] argue that federal legislation cannot serve the Clause’s aim unless the legislation “spur[s] the creation of … new works.” . . .

In Eldred, we rejected an argument nearly identical to the one petitioners rehearse.

Even were we writing on a clean slate, petitioners’ argument would be unavailing.

Merriam-Webster: unavailing (adjective)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The deal with the public was destroyed

That’s a very nice, completely out of context sentence right there. At no point during Eldred v Ashcroft did they actually demur to the petitioners’ description. Reading in context, they quite literally said, “well, we could argue that your position is wrong, but we aren’t going to.” Instead, the court repeatedly argued that periodic extensions of copyright were, in fact, consistent with the goal to incentevize people to create new works based on old works.

You should have gone directly to Mazer v. Stein, which was the case that your sentence referenced, and which actually contained such an argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The deal with the public was destroyed

You should have gone directly to Mazer v. Stein

It appears we cross-posted. I’m not sure you saw my 11:34 comment before you submitted your 11:36 argument. (I myself was checking for additional comments immediately prior to submission at 11:34.)

I didn’t go back to Mazer (1954), rather I went directly ahead to Golan (2012).

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The deal with the public was destroyed

And we could also look at Bowers v Hardwick, where the Court said that there was no right to engage in sexual acts with a person of the same gender, and then jump ahead almost 20 years, when the Court said “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.”

The copyright clause part of Eldred was decided incorrectly. Breyer got it absolutely right. And the Ginsburgs, mère et fille, are among the last people I would ever listen to regarding copyright issues.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Incentivization"

“Copyright was supposed to be something that incentivized peopled to release new work”

Has anyone noticed the fact that Mother Nature has done just fine during the past 3.5 billion years or so without requiring copyright laws for evolution to function.

If you look at the extremely wide variety of living organisms, you’d be hard pressed to explain why “incentivization” was required to enable this variety — that is, incentives beyond merely surviving, thriving and reproducing.

Perhaps there is some positive correlation between people who believe in copyright and people who don’t believe in evolution?

Anonymous Coward says:

Whine is all they know how to do anymore. It’s too expensive to police their copyrights so they whine that Google and the ISP’s should do it instead, for free. It’s too expensive too not apply term extensions immediately. They whine they aren’t making insane amounts on streaming. They whine about ISP’s not disconnecting subscribers merely cause they accuse them of infringement. And on and on.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The committee should have asked him where it says that, as many in the governments aren’t privy to whats in the document.

Life+70 has no benefit for the artists, but it does benefit the gatekeepers and middlemen. Of course the downside is there will end up being more lawsuits they have to defend when music sounds like other music.

They’ve screwed up the industry so badly chasing imaginary dollars, perhaps it is time to remind them that the public domain isn’t an afterthought, and its time for the pendulum to swing back. Who knows perhaps artists might create more things knowing that there won’t be royalty checks for their great grandchildren to cash.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because they still like to pretend that they don’t believe that the public should have absolutely no say in copyright law, and get no benefit from it whatsoever that doesn’t involve the transfer of money.

No one who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention believes them of course but they don’t care so long as the politicians voting for the laws they buy do, or at least pretend to in order to curry favor with them.

David says:

Re: Re:

Well sure, that’s the intent. As copying, this great enabler of culture, becomes easier and cheaper, copying has to become harder and more expensive.

Otherwise, there would be progress and the media industries would have to adapt or perish.

But those having the money stacks to influence politics are the established and incumbent players, not the newcomers.

As long as money determines what gets written into laws, culture will be gatewayed, and it will be gatewayed all the harder the more advanced the technical possibilities for creating and using media get.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Too confusing you say?

Alright, I know something you could do that would clear up a whole lot of confusion the public currently has to deal with, and as you seem to care so very much about the public I’m sure you’ll be totally on board with the idea:

Mandatory registration.

You want a copyright on something you must register it with the relevant office, with the records easily searched by the public so they know who owns something and how to get a hold of them if they need to. If the copyright changes hands then the records must be updated within a reasonable time-period(one week sounds good) or the copyright is invalidated.

There, no more confusion as to who owns the rights to what, and what is and is not in the public domain. As a champion of the public I have no doubt that you will get right on pushing for such a helpful change.

David says:

Won't anybody think of the artists?

That deal said “this work goes into the public domain, but to give you incentive to create it in the first place, we’ll give you some limited exclusive rights for this amount of time.” That’s the deal that was struck. But, now, with copyright term extension, that deal gets thrown out, screwing over the public.

It’s a reasonably safe bet that for most creators getting a non-trivial posthumous payout, they’d have cared a heck of a lot more what their creative memes are doing 50 years after their death than what their heirs/estates/whatever are getting.

Reneging on the deal struck with the creators is not as much screwing over the public (since it wasn’t really an active party to the deal, merely a benficiary) as it is screwing over the creator.

He or she is the one whose grave is shamelessly robbed, purportedly to give him posthumous incentives by better caring for his legal heirs than he expected, but factually robbing his grave, taking a good percentage out, and pretending to somehow all do it for either the person they are robbing or whoever gets the rest of the spoils.

Posthumous extension of copyright is screwing the creators out of their cultural legacy without recompensation. Hard.

Wyrm (profile) says:


Actually, if we’re to extend copyright indefinitely, maybe we should just go all the way through:
– make all copyrights retroactively infinite in duration.
– make companies who have built their works on public domain art retroactively pay back the copyright owner for their works (with compound interests).
– bankrupt Disney!

For those who don’t get it, that’s sarcasm.
Not that I wouldn’t like to see that happening to Disney, but that would mess up with a lot more people than them.

Let’s amend this proposition: make it apply only to Disney. After all, they’re some of the most active advocates of repeated/indefinite copyright extension. They should be all for being the first to experience it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mickey Mouse

This generally has nothing to do with profiting off works that are 100 years old (assuming the artist lives for another 30 years i.e song/book comes out in 2016, artist dies 2046, copyright expires 2116), because 99.99999% of it will either not be in publication (although the digital world of no scarcity could fix that) or its orphaned (and no one will touch it for fear of future litigation), or nobody gives a rat’s arse about it (because, well, you know, it’s old shit). It’s far more to do with tying up a few lucrative items…

why the fuck did we even move from 50 to 70? Oh that’s right .. Mickey Fucking Mouse

crade (profile) says:

Re: Mickey Mouse

Yeah, but they could really do this in a way that make everyone’s lives so miserable.. I mean even a simple system of paying a small amount to register stuff indefinitely after it expires would probably accomplish the same thing without needlessly depriving everyone from being able to use all the rest of the work that no one is benefiting from having locked up at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Mickey Mouse

without needlessly depriving everyone from being able to use all the rest of the work that no one is benefiting from having locked up at all

The recording industry still has the mind set of an industry that produces copies in large numbers in a single batch. They want old works locked up so that they can control which works are on the market at anyone time. People then have much smaller selection of works that they can buy, as that keeps up the volume of sales for those works.

Zonker says:

Why don’t we just dispose of all this +20 years to copyrights every 20 years nonsense and just define copyright as lasting Life + Graham’s Number years. That still fits within the Supreme Court’s definition of a “limited time” as there will still be one day in the extremely far distant future where a copyright expires. Of course, by then Disney (if it still exists) could just get it extended to Life + TREE(3) years, and after that to Life + SCG(13) years.

Copyright could last far past the heat death of the universe and probably still be considered a “limited time”.


ECA (profile) says:


What TRADE agreement?

This seems more a recommendation of Laws/Rules/regulations, BEFORE we will do anything Bill..

It would be interesting to compare, WHO/WHAT corps OWN what around the world,
With what Countries have been FIGHTING these corps for years, with OLD laws they dont wish to change..

MOST of this, is the idea that a Maker makes Music, a CORP takes all responsibility from the maker, gives back LITTLE compared to its profits, and when the maker DIES, they STILL OWN IT…
Unless an ARTIST READS/Understands the contracts HE SIGNS..HE has few if any rights.
If he DOES NOT, stipulate that UPON HIS DEATH, ALL RIGHTS GOTO HIS FAMILY…The family WONT get anything..

REALLY suggest everyone look up the PAST history of Movie/Music contracts BEFORE the 60’s…Its @#$@# SCARY..

canada is LIFE +80 says:


canada is life PLUS 80 as the last govt made happen that means star trek created in 1966 gets out of copyright never cause the rights holder is a corporation… as long as CBS /PARAMOUNT exist thats the life

now if the law actually is when rodden berry died the creator….thats 1991 + 80 years
or 2071

and as axanar proves that we fans could do better work then the studios they shut it down and the restrictions now are for 15 minute shows…and no more then two episodes ergo 30 minutes….

trek is dead……
all thanks to lawyers and copyright, just as there 50th anniversity ramps up its all a sham and only people supporting it are invested n it like the lawyers.

axanar says:

star trek s dead

a fan based prelude shows what they can do and a great story ive said should be done for years….

nope cbs is STILL SUING despite jj amrams saying the suit is going away.

the tech is so easy ot use and avail now that it dont take much for volunteers and fans to make a top notch movie thats better then the unionized garbage that the studios put out

there is a really great video where richard hatch of original bsg and the new bsg states that fan based stuff grows your base of fans and is akin to free advertising and as he proved , you could use a fna based movie as he did to jump start interest in a IP….he did that before the new bsg and instead a shutting it down….they brought him onto the new show.

You won’t see that this time as cbs/paramount are just vultures and the new tv show trailer is cbs shown only via sub….the damn ship looks like a cross between hull of a d7 with a saucer….and terrible cgi….

Guess i was right to sit back and watch all these lawyery type ps implode as the truly creative people leave in drives and there fans go elsewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Life + x

Life plus 50 or 70 means that if an artist made more in a year than a person would make at an average income + 50 or 70 years the song is free, right?
So given the avg income is $53k/year (2015) that means.. times 10 ( 530)… times 5, 50 years working ( 2.65m)… times 2 for life+50…

So if an artist makes more than $6.3 mio per year aka what you would earn in two life times the song is in the public domain right? And given that Ms Swift made more than $50m last year… feel free to calculate how many lives the average American has to life to earn that.

David says:

Re: Re: Life + x

Well, bodies grow older and the starlet industry needs fresh thighs to flash at its audience in rapid progression.

So many of the artists have at best a few years before they become unfashionable (read: before their recording labels lock them down legally and swap them for fresh meat).

That makes it a pretty tough job to reliably cater for your basic needs at image-appropriate level for life and three generations of offspring from six spouses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Life + x

They are starving because the get a meager share of that income due to Hollywood style accounting, and the labels take the record off of the market after a few years, so that meager share drops to 0.
Copyright terms are not their to benefit the artists, but rather to allow the labels to control the market, and in particular to limit the number of works that are available to buy.

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