Jamaica The Latest To Embrace Retroactive Copyright Term Extension And Screw The Public Domain

from the sad-news-for-jamaican-music dept

Last month we wrote about Europe retroactively extending copyright, which, in effect, seized works that were supposed to go into the public domain. A study found that the cost to the public was 1 billion euros. To date, we have never seen a reasonable justification for retroactive copyright term extension. The purpose of copyright is to benefit the public by inspiring new works, by giving the creator a temporary monopoly. It makes no sense to retroactively change the deal, because obviously the deal was sufficient at the time the content was created. Nothing in retroactive extension increases the incentive for new works. If anything, it does the exact opposite -- it gives the record labels more incentive to keep squeezing money out of old songs, rather than to invest in new ones.

So it's disappointing to hear that Jamaica appears poised to follow suit and extend copyrights from 50 years to 70 years as well. In the video below, it starts off with an impassioned plea by a recording industry representative, who misrepresents some research. He notes a WIPO paper that says the copyright industries' return on investment is higher than other sectors. That may be true, but that is almost entirely unrelated to copyright term extension. There can be investment in the same sectors without copyright, and just because the copyright is extended, there is no reason to believe there is greater investment in those industries. The basic fallacy presented by Evon Mullings, is the idea that retroactive extension leads to greater investment. In fact, as noted, it gives the labels less incentive to invest in new works.

Unfortunately, the speaker after Mullings is the Minister of Culture, Olivia Grange, who flat out says: "You won't have to advocate. You won't have to fight for it. It is going to be done."
This is especially ridiculous when it comes to Jamaican culture and Jamaican music. For many, many years, we've spoken about how Jamaican music was a great example of the success of embracing a remix culture. In addition there's been plenty of recent research talking about the explosive creativity in Jamaican culture spurred on by technology, not by copyright law... It's a shame that rather than understanding this, it appears the industry and politicians there are simply repeating myths and passing legislation that will significantly harm the public.

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  1. identicon
    John Doe, 21 Oct 2011 @ 5:16am

    Did they extend copyright to dead people?

    My favorite thing about copyright is that it is life plus 70 years in the US. Without copyright, what incentive do dead people have to create?

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