It's almost as if the major labels aren't even trying to hide how they like to abuse the spirit of copyright law in order to keep things locked up as long as possible. Sony Music recently "issued" (and I use the term loosely) a special limited release Bob Dylan collection
and didn't even bother to try to hide the real reason for putting it out. It's in the name of the damn release: "Bob Dylan: The Copyright Extension Collection Vol. 1."
Yes, the entire purpose of releasing this is so that Sony Music can keep Bob Dylan songs under copyright in Europe for a longer period of time. As they're all too happy to explain, copyright term extension for recordings happened in Europe recently, bumping it up from 50 years to 70 years -- but there's a "use it or lose it" clause in there:
Two spokesmen for Sony confirmed that the set was legitimate, its bootleglike appearance notwithstanding. They explained that the point of the release was to keep the recordings under copyright protection in Europe, where the laws are in flux. Currently, recordings can be copyrighted in Europe for 50 years, a much shorter term than in the United States, where recordings made since 1978 will remain copyrighted until 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.
In 2011 the European Union revised its copyright laws to extend copyright to 70 years. The change is not yet in effect but will be by 2014. And there’s a catch, a “use it or lose it” provision: recordings cannot benefit from the 20-year extension unless they were published before the 50-year term expired. The recordings on “The 50th Anniversary Collection” were about to fall over that legal precipice.
Of course, since this is all about protectionism
rather than actually getting people to hear the music, this collection is somewhat difficult to find (well, unless you go to unauthorized sources for digital downloads -- not that we recommend such things). That's because they only made 100 copies of them and gave them to a few stores in key European countries.
Only about 100 copies of the four-CD set were produced, with sparse packaging and an insert listing the details of the set’s 86 tracks, all previously unreleased studio outtakes and live recordings from 1962 and 1963.
It also comes as a downloadable version, available through the singers’s Web site, bobdylan.com, but only to fans who log on from France or Germany. (Prices for the CD set vary from country to country, from the equivalent of $39 to, in Britain, $138)
American collectors are locked out, although for those desperate to have an original CD set, several have made their way to eBay, where bids have gone as high as about $1,450.
Anyway, I'm sure all of this activity is creating incentive for Bob Dylan to make more music from 1962.