Canadian Public Domain Not Good Enough For German Publisher

from the this-is-not-the-public-domain-you-were-looking-for dept

It's no secret that different countries have different lengths for copyright. That's why there are constant debates over copyright extension, as countries with shorter terms for copyright are pressured by those with longer terms to extend (or, better yet, to leapfrog) copyright terms. Otherwise, you end up with the situation where content in one country is in the public domain, while it's still under copyright elsewhere. In the age of the internet, where borders are somewhat meaningless online, that's going to cause some problems. Witness the situation with the International Music Score Library Project, a wiki-based project in Canada, for publishing public domain music scores online. The site was careful about copyright, making sure that the only content published was in the public domain. Since the site is based in Canada, it focused on Canadian copyright law and what was in the public domain in that country. Apparently, that was seen as problematic to a German publisher, Universal Edition AG, who found that some of the musical scores that are in the public domain in Canada are still under copyright in Germany. Universal Edition then hired a Toronto law firm to send a cease and desist letter, that caused the entire site to be taken down. Yes, even though all of the content was perfectly legal under Canadian law, this German publisher was able to get it taken offline because some of the content was still under copyright in Europe. If this type of thing is allowed to stand, then we reach a point where all copyright online automatically is covered by the absolute most draconian and stringent levels of copyright law, no matter what the law is anywhere else. That doesn't seem either reasonable or fair.

Filed Under: canada, copyright, copyright extension, eu, international music score library project, public domain
Companies: universal edition ag

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Casper, 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: What is the alternative ?

    So material created in a Germany should be subjected to another Canada's copyright laws? That hardly makes sense.

    Though from personal experience Germany tends to impose it's copyright laws on other country's music (i.e. thinking PD music is not PD).

    It is illogical to say that the most stringent laws would be enforced just the laws between the two stakeholder’s countries. Yes, it complicates things, but until a global copyright agreement is reached that may have to be a constant annoyance.

    You have to be realistic, filtering by country is impossible and would be counter productive to a global network. You would essentially be crippling the internet simply because copyrights and trademarks (which were intended to PROMOTE progress) are different in every country.

    I can not understand how on one side countries criticize the Unites States for influencing other countries politics and laws, only to agree with instances such as this. Since no where on the site does the Canadian company reference German users specifically, wouldn't it make sense that they were not intending to provide the content to those users, and as such, it would be more along the lines of second hand information exchange rather then a deliberate attempt to disseminate copyrighted material in violation with German law? They obeyed their local laws, for the country where they are located, and they did not deliberately bypass foreign laws. This site should not have been shut down.

    If the German company has a problem with this, they should put pressure on the German government to work out a cooperative law with the Canadian government, not exploit the flawed copyright system.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.