Copyright Is Not A Welfare System For Musicians

from the please-explain dept

As the battle over copyright term extension is still going on in the UK, the Register has an interview with a former general manager of Motown, talking about how those in favor of extending the length of performance rights screwed up because they had successful musicians like Cliff Richard as the figurehead for the movement, leading people to question why a successful musician needs any more money. Instead, he points out that they should have focused on the studio musicians or less well known players where "500 quid a year to them that's a significant amount of money." Of course, that bases the entire argument on the idea that copyright is some sort of welfare program for content creators. It's not. It's very clearly laid out purpose is simply to put in place the incentives for creation of new content. The content that was created 50 years ago does not need any more incentive to be created. Yes, additional money to these musicians probably would be nice for them, but copyright isn't designed as a system to support musicians. They did this work 50 years ago. They got paid then, and they've been paid for it for 50 years, as the law stated. It was enough incentive for them back then -- and it's one of the few jobs in the world where you get paid for work you did 50 years ago. If we want to create a welfare system for musicians, that's a different discussion -- but don't try to hide a welfare system in copyright.

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  1. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 26 Jan 2007 @ 6:26am

    sometimes enough is enough

    That's true Dorpus.

    That's because copyright works well as a tool for protecting software.

    You can rewrite software. You can look at some source code, see how a person solved a problem, understand it and write it another way, or in another language.

    Likewise with classical text. There are many books on gardening. Different authors bring their own perspectives to the same knowledge. There are many crime novels that depict largely similar stories, but they have different twists and characters.

    Only the music business displays the audacious greed to try and copyright the abstract essence of a work, to call a reinterpretation of a theme a "cover version" and then try to extract money from new performers or arrangers.

    Copyright would work for software if its terms were 5 years. Most software is obsolete after that time. So, for programmers, copyright terms are already more than sufficient, even generous, for their intended purpose.

    The reason the music and film publishers are so vocal is because they think they are "special". Reasonable copyright periods are not good enough for them. They are whining communists, parasites and freeloaders who think they should be entitled to a lifetime of welfare for penning a melody that is of dubious utility to society anyway. The only reason they get away with it is that they have succeeded in hoodwinking society into thinking they deserve special treatment, they are spoiled children who have already been allowed to get away with too much.

    So, as you say, there is no essential difference between the application of copyright to software and music, but there is a world of difference between the attitudes of the producers. Perhaps the software industry is "curiously silent " because it is satisfied * with the law.


    The above term has largely fallen out of use in Western society. Hard though it may be for our modern culture to understand there is a state of mind in which a person seeks no more gratification, they have had "enough of something"

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