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
    Paul, 27 Jan 2007 @ 10:05am


    Things have gotten a little out of hand since I last looked at the post here. My opinion is a s follows, and please disagree if you have a valid argument to counteract...

    1) Copyright exists to give incenive to further works. After 50 years, enough 'incentive' has been give - if the artist hasn't made any further works after that amount of time, that's their problem.

    2) All art, whatever the format, belongs in essence to the public. For 50 years, the copyright allows the owner to have an exclusive right to make money from that art, after which the 'ownership' reverts to the public.

    3) After this reversion, the public can use the art in the way they wish, not removing the rights from the original artist (who, if still alive, can continue to make money), but rather allowing others to benefit from the art. For instance, a new artist could make a career recording cover version of songs over 50 years old, possibly brand new interpretations that surpass the original. Other acts could sample the work and use the samples to build a superior new work. A movie maker could make a movie set over 50 years ago, and increase the value of the movie by including music from that period without having to bloat the budget by paying millions in royalties to the deceased artists...

    There are so many arguments here, but at the end of the day, 50 years is a great gift to artists, after which the work should belong to the public. End of story.

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