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. icon
    Mike (profile), 26 Jan 2007 @ 11:07am

    Re: Rob is right, Mike is wrong

    I'm not sure what copyright law says exactly, but what it should say is something along the lines of this: "If you create something that people want, whether they want it now, 50 years from now, or 1,000 years from now, you have a right to be paid for your work."

    Why? The purpose of copyright is very, very clear.

    "the Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

    That is, it is solely for the purpose of promoting the progress of science and useful arts, and it must be for a limited time.

    The reasoning makes sense (and you should read some of the history of the debates among folks like Jefferson and Madison concerning the thought process that went into that). The idea is that by its nature, content or ideas or music are infinitely copyable. You can copy it, and the originator does not lose it. There is tremendous benefit in allowing that, but it does make monetization more difficult in some cases.

    But it must be for a limited time, because otherwise you stifle all sorts of other innovations by limiting the use of an abundant resource. If you think that all content is created from nothing with no inspiration and not built on the backs of creators beforehand, then you work in a different world. All creativity is built off the backs of others who created beforehand. Based on your view, none of those new creations could create without paying a huge and burdensome cost to all that inspired them.

    Since when does the passage of time suddenly make it where you no longer should be allowed to get paid for something you created? And if there is law that supports that philosophy, then I adamantly disagree with that, too. It needs to be changed.

    Almost all work is paid for to be created and then the originator no longer has control over it. You are asking to change the very basis of the free exchange of goods and services.

    Why do you people care so much if someone makes money on something THEY CREATED?!? It's not hurting anyone, other than an entity (person or company) that wants to use that music for free, and gets annoyed when the creator of that something comes along and says "Hey, I created that, I own license to it, you can't use it without compensating me in some way that we both agree with". If the entity that wants to use the music/product/service does't want to pay for it, then fine, don't use it! Or create a mutually agreeable contract with the entity that created it.

    Actually, it hurts everyone. Absolutely everyone. Because you have unfairly burdened anyone who is trying to create something new. All creations are based on inspirations of other works, and you are saying that everyone needs to pay for that inspiration? That's an awful solution and would guarantee no creativity.

    The public gets hurt by having fewer creative works. The artists get hurt by having their works locked up. It's a terrible solution that would effectively stifle tremendous creativity.

    It boils down to this: ANY product (music, software, apples, shoes, ceiling fans, etc) has a value to some people. If they wish to exchange something of value with the owner of that product, no matter what year it is, or when that product was created, then so be it. If they wish to use something for free simply because X number of years have passed...then too bad! You dont have the right to have something for free just because time has passed.

    There are others who have held that idea in the past. You haven't paid them for that idea -- and yet, by your reasoning, you should be paying them or not expressing that idea.

    See where this gets problematic fast?

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