While we've been surprised that the UK government actually appears to support
putting in place much of the Hargreaves' report's recommendations
, we've noted from the beginning that the report really seemed to pull its punches at times. That may have been politically necessary, but it's good to see at least some in the UK pointing out that there are even larger problems with the copyright system that the government is not addressing. Shane Richmond, at The Telegraph, has an excellent article that highlights how copyright is an "outdated law that puts a cap on creativity."
While it covers a few different issues, a key point is the ridiculous length of copyright law today:
This situation is essentially ridiculous. A copyright period that extends beyond the life of the author is clearly not an incentive to create Ė whatever rewards you offer, John Lennon is unlikely to write any more songs (although the music industry did include the names of several dead musicians among the 4,000 whom it listed in 2006 as supporting a further extension, so perhaps it might work after all).
Separately, he calls out the traditional industry gatekeepers and lobbyists for pretending that they've been arguing in the best interests of the artists, when copyright law is often getting in the way of artists instead:
Even as far back as the 18th century, publishers knew that arguing for a legal monopoly for their products was unlikely to succeed. So they framed the argument around the artists and got what they wanted. Todayís arguments, whether in favour of copyright extensions or against ďpiracyĒ, are always couched in the same terms: itís about protecting artists and creators.
But copyrights are now increasingly likely to be owned by corporations, not by individuals. These companies will argue that they have invested in creativity, even if they didnít do the creating themselves. But very often, they simply bought the rights from a company that once invested in some long-dead artist, or from that artistís relatives. Itís not about creativity, itís about revenue Ė which is perhaps why, in the US, copyright extensions have tended to happen whenever Disney is about to lose the exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse.
As it stands, the true purpose of copyright has been subverted. In fact, itís now an active disincentive to create.
It's pretty amazing (and surprising) to see this in a mainstream UK publication. Hopefully people pay attention.