Copyright Extension In Europe Will Only Make Musicians A Tiny Amount Of Money; But Will Cost Consumers

from the protecting-the-artists? dept

When the EU ignored tons of evidence and the very purpose of copyright in announcing plans to extend performance copyrights from 50 to 95 years, the politicians who supported this proposal (of course) insisted that they were doing so to benefit the artists who most needed it, such as the session musicians, rather than the big stars -- basically admitting that they were viewing copyright as a sort of welfare system for musicians (despite the fact that copyright is designed for a totally different purpose).

While this ignores the fact that many session musicians are paid a flat fee for their efforts and don't retain copyrights, a group has found even more damning evidence against the plan to extend copyrights. Using the very numbers that were relied on by the European Commission to push this plan, the Open Rights Group notes that most musicians would earn almost nothing from the extensions -- with 80% of the musicians getting less than 27 euros per year.

You know who would benefit though? You guessed it! The recording industry. Record labels would likely bring in millions of euros thanks solely to the extensions. And who would be harmed? Yup. Consumers. So, consumers are harmed, musicians aren't really helped, but the recording industry makes out like bandits. Is anyone really surprised?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 6:17pm

    No.

    I'm not surprised. Copyright needs, I say NEEDS to be much much shorter if we are to actually advance the arts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Paul, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 6:35pm

    @ 1

    Actually, copyright needs to disapear completely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    eleete, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 7:27pm

    Re: @ 1

    10-4, Roger Dodger, and an Amen to boot !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Sep 10th, 2008 @ 12:23am

    Re: No.

    Agrees. Wasn't there a UK study that said that 15 years was the ideal term for copyright to last?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Jon Clarke, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 1:04am

    Copyright Extension

    Trust me, the nearly extinct studio musician does benefit, and it's not welfare. Musicians have created parts for popular recordings since the advent of the hit record, without receiving any writers credit. And let's face it, music is pretty darn cheap compared to other forms of entertainment. I'm one of the dinasaurs, and the very substantial checks I get from the U.K. means a lot to me. Technology has pretty much replaced us in the recording studio, so this contribution helps while we fade away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 2:02am

    Re: Copyright Extension

    Jon Clarke claimed:

    Trust me...

    Against all the evidence?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Sep 10th, 2008 @ 4:19am

    Re: Copyright Extension

    No offence Jon, but that's the entire problem. I'm sure you did good work and feel you deserve continuing payment but why should you be guaranteed an income from work you did 51 years ago? (The article is about an extension from the current 50 years).

    I'm sure a lot of people did great work in 1958, but most of them are not using that work to pay their pension. Most of them don't get the legal right to do so, and so they have to work more. I'm sorry if your line of work work is fading away to be replaced with technology, but then so has most major industrial and manual work.

    I'm glad you get paid, but I don't believe you are entitled to it. All these extensions do is give money to those who were already successful and kill the art that's going to disappear because they are now orphaned works and can't be legally released. That is a travesty and shouldn't be allowed just so you can retire on work you did decades ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Jerk, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 4:43am

    Extention vs. ExtenSion

    What is an extention?

    Are you surprised? These RIAA knock-offs have no respect for the law and consumers, not realizing that if we all stopped buying friggin music and movies, THEY WOULD HAVE NO JOBS...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    Its nice to know

    That politicans in the UK are just as vacuous, ethicless and corrupt as thier colonial counter parts here in the states.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 5:00am

    A perfect example pf purchased legislation

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    Re: Copyright Extension

    "Trust me, the nearly extinct studio musician does benefit, and it's not welfare. Musicians have created parts for popular recordings since the advent of the hit record, without receiving any writers credit. And let's face it, music is pretty darn cheap compared to other forms of entertainment. I'm one of the dinasaurs, and the very substantial checks I get from the U.K. means a lot to me. Technology has pretty much replaced us in the recording studio, so this contribution helps while we fade away."


    I wonder how much the residual checks for the engineer who worked on those sessions is?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Jack, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Title misspelled

    Copyright Extension not Copyright Extention

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 10:02am

    Extensions are not necessary

    I agree that extensions are not called for, but not for the reason Mike provides. And I would object to the idea that copyright, not just extensions, is some form of "welfare" for musicians (or any other author or artist).

    I noted an interesting idea in the "welfare system" link to one of Mike's earlier posts:

    This is, of course, a complete bastardization of copyright. Copyright was a bargain between the public and content creators: if we grant you a monopoly on this content for a certain number of years, you'll create that content. There is no excuse to go back at a later date and change the terms of the deal.


    This assumes that content is somehow owned by the public and a "monopoly" is magnanimously granted that should be just sufficient to get authors/artists to create more content for the public.

    Instead, the idea of copyright, going back to the 15th century, is to balance the rights the content creator in the content with the public benefit of wide dissemination of that content. The content creators have the right to their content; to encourage them to share the content, and therefore "promote the progress of science and useful arts" to the great public good, those rights are protected under law. To balance those rights with a greater public good, the exclusive term of those rights is limited.

    Copyright has always been a balancing act between those two ideas: the creator's rights in the work and the greater public good of the increase in knowledge, science, and art.

    Of course, from the beginning, the exploitation of both the creator's rights and the public good has revolved in large part around money.

    Therefore, it's not "welfare" for an author or artist to benefit financially from their work under the terms of law that were around when the work was created and published.

    But saying that "there is no excuse to go back at a later date and change the terms of the deal" works both ways. If there is no excuse to lengthen the term of copyright, then there is no excuse to shorten the term of copyright for works already published.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    Re: Extensions are not necessary

    Therefore, it's not "welfare" for an author or artist to benefit financially from their work under the terms of law that were around when the work was created and published.

    I don't think anyone would have used the term "welfare" to describe royalty payments had the duration of the copyright not been extended so much. But when you change the rules, after the fact, to benefit a certain group of people, you can see where people would find a negatively charged word like welfare appropriate, especially when the benefit comes at a disproportionatly large negative impact on everyone else.

    But saying that "there is no excuse to go back at a later date and change the terms of the deal" works both ways. If there is no excuse to lengthen the term of copyright, then there is no excuse to shorten the term of copyright for works already published.

    I think only the people with the most extreme viewpoints would call for elimination or reduction of current rights. Again, the big issue in many peoples' minds is the extensions, not the original copyright terms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    ulle53, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Actually the originally copyright was formed not to help the content creator but to grant the publishers a monopoly, in fact early copyright privileges were called monopolies particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Extensions are not necessary

    I don't think anyone would have used the term "welfare" to describe royalty payments had the duration of the copyright not been extended so much.

    Perhaps. If your referring to only the extension of existing terms of copyright. But there's a seems to be tendency in some comments to kind of elide that distinction to imply that any lengthy term of exclusive copyright unjustly enriches content creators.

    I think only the people with the most extreme viewpoints would call for elimination or reduction of current rights. Again, the big issue in many peoples' minds is the extensions, not the original copyright terms.

    I'm not so sure about that, as some fly-by comments have called for elimination of copyright without specifying whether they mean future copyrights or current copyrights.

    That said, I generally don't support any further extension of copyright and would like to see reform of copyright, but in a way that wouldn't affect current copyright holders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    True, but the effect was the same. To distribute their work and get paid for it, content creators had no other option than to either work through established publishers or become a publisher themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Extensions are not necessary

    But there's a seems to be tendency in some comments to kind of elide that distinction to imply that any lengthy term of exclusive copyright unjustly enriches content creators.

    That's true, but I think it's a natural reaction to the absurd increase in copyright legislation and enforcement in recent years. For example, even the people who are calling for the abolition of copyrights probably wouldn't have even known about the problem, much less be in favor of such a radical solution, were it not for news stories like the ASCAP trying to prevent the Girl Scouts from singing certain campfire songs. (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071210/010636.shtml)

    And as for the "unjustly enriches content creators" part, I think most people, even the more radical, have much more sympathy for the content creators than the arguably parasitic industry which has built up around the creators. As the TD story demonstrates, even if you are in favor of further funding the content creator based on previous works, you can see that the legistlation in question doesn't do this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Extensions are not necessary

    I don't disagree. The ASCAP episode was just plain stupid, even in business terms (they should have had at least one PR person on staff). I'd also agree that the music industry is particularly short-sighted in their zeal to maximize profits. There are always idiots out there, and the most egregious of their follies is what makes the news.

    I've agreed that there should be sensible copyright reform (the Bono act was unnecessary), but the excesses of business don't change the basic value of copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    DanC, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Extensions are not necessary

    And I would object to the idea that copyright, not just extensions, is some form of "welfare" for musicians (or any other author or artist).

    Copyright is a benefit created for artists at the public's expense. A term of copyright that allows an artist to "rest on their laurels" is very similar to welfare.

    This assumes that content is somehow owned by the public and a "monopoly" is magnanimously granted that should be just sufficient to get authors/artists to create more content for the public.

    Actually, the argument assumes a lack of ownership. Copyright exists to make it "easier" to reward content creators for their work by bestowing a property right on an intangible. Copyright does not actually grant ownership, it grants an exclusionary right.

    The lack of ownership allows anyone to use the content; copyright allows only the creator to decide on its use. Therefore, copyright grants a temporary monopoly on the content to the creator.

    The content creators have the right to their content; to encourage them to share the content, and therefore "promote the progress of science and useful arts" to the great public good, those rights are protected under law.

    There is no natural right to ownership of an idea (or expression thereof). Copyright does not protect the rights of content creators - it removes the rights of the public to copy a work.

    But saying that "there is no excuse to go back at a later date and change the terms of the deal" works both ways. If there is no excuse to lengthen the term of copyright, then there is no excuse to shorten the term of copyright for works already published.

    This simply makes no sense. Retroactively changing the duration of copyright for works already created is essentially reneging on a deal. Changing the terms of future deals, such as shortening the duration of copyright, makes sense if they provide a greater incentive to create.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    DanC, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 6:43pm

    Re: Re: Extensions are not necessary

    But saying that "there is no excuse to go back at a later date and change the terms of the deal" works both ways. If there is no excuse to lengthen the term of copyright, then there is no excuse to shorten the term of copyright for works already published.

    I accidentally misread your last point, and actually agree with this portion of your comment. My apologies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Sep 11th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Extensions are not necessary

    Copyright is a benefit created for artists at the public's expense. A term of copyright that allows an artist to "rest on their laurels" is very similar to welfare.

    I've already replied to you on the issue of an content creator's "ownership" rights in the Speilberg thread here:

    http://techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20080909/0245232210&threaded=true#c562

    so I won't go into it again. Suffice to say I disagree that if an artist can get paid for his/her "laurels" let them rest on them as long as they live.

    There is no natural right to ownership of an idea (or expression thereof).

    I agree there is no right of ownership to an idea (which is one reason why ideas, and facts, are not subject to copyright), but the particular expression of the idea, as I discussed in the linked thread, does have such a right and is why it's protected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    DanC, Sep 11th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Extensions are not necessary

    but the particular expression of the idea, as I discussed in the linked thread, does have such a right and is why it's protected.

    And as I stated previously to you, the right you are referring to does not exist. Copyright law creates the situation that allows content creators to behave as owners; it doesn't exist naturally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This