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
    Liberty Dave, 26 Jan 2007 @ 1:46pm


    Sure, I'd be glad to explain why I think copyright law should support the artist.

    Earlier you claim that we should let the free market sort stuff out, yet here you seem to be suggesting that there are a class of people ("artists") for whom the free market cannot support, and therefore there should be government protection for them.

    No, sorry for the confusion if I came across as stating the free market cannot support "artists", that's not what I meant to convey at all. And I certainly didn't mean there should be government protection for them or any other industry. Or rather I'd prefer if government "protected" artists and industry by making sure no laws were made that hinder the free market, such as a copyright law. So I guess that would be government working in reverse to what it normally does.

    I would like copyright law to basically state that an artist has the ability to sell their materials at whatever price they wish, under whatever terms they wish, no one else could use their creation without their consent, as long as they could prove without a doubt that they're the original creator of the material. Also give them the ability to transfer "ownership" of the creation to anyone they want. That new "owner" would have the benefits the original owner had over that material. I could on and on about particular details, but those are the basics.

    Some people would say that's a "protection of the artist", and I guess it is, but it's also "protection of the creator of something".

    It's the same thing as government "protecting" you when you make a...chair...for example. You paid for the materials to make the chair, or got them somehow yourself by your labor. No one has the right to take the chair from you, it's your property to do with what you please. Sell it, destroy it, give it away.

    I also am still a bit confused with your earlier comment that this sort of protection would destroy other works, or the ability of other artists to create new works. It might have been due to our misunderstanding with one another, or maybe you were thinking that I support something such as the copyright of certain notes, and if anyone used those notes, even in a different arrangement, they could sue. I'm NOT for that. But that gets into some serious semantics, which for now I'll leave out due to it's complexity.

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