Beatles' First Single Enters Public Domain -- In Europe

from the when-I'm-64 dept

The Beatles remain the iconic pop group, so news on VVN/Music that their very first single has now entered the public domain is something of a landmark moment in music:

The Beatles first single, Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You, has entered the public domain in Europe and small labels are already taking advantage of the situation.

The European copyright laws grant ownership of a recorded track for fifty years, which Love Me Do just passed. That means that, starting January 1 of 2013, anyone who wants to put out the track is free to do so.
Unfortunately, if you're in the US, you'll probably have to wait until 2049 or so. And things are about to get worse in Europe too. As Techdirt reported, back in 2011 the European Union agreed to increase the copyright term for sound recordings by 20 years, despite the absence of any economic justification for this theft from the public domain (yes, this is theft, because it's taking something away that people had.)

Once the relevant legislation is passed around Europe, that means that most of the later Beatles singles -- and many other famous pop music hits from the 1960s -- won't be in the public domain there until the 2030s, rather than in the next few years. It's not yet clear whether the new 70-year term will be applied retroactively to works that have already entered the public domain, so Europeans may want to enjoy their right to distribute free copies of "Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You" recordings legally while they can....

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Filed Under: copyright, europe, public domain, the beatles


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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Jan 2013 @ 2:45am

    I disagree with the theft part due to definitions here. You cannot steal intangible stuff like songs, lyrics or whatever.

    First we have to make it clear that there are natural, inalienable. Public domain is such right. Your right to live is such right. Laws generally deal with cases where an individual rights are disrespected.

    In that sense Public Domain is a natural right and copyright is a temporary privilege, monopoly granted by the Government so the execution of an idea can be protected from commercial exploitation.

    In any case what the EU did was deprive the public from their natural right with no explanation whatsoever. So while it's not theft it is a serious violation of the public rights and should be treated accordingly. It's not up to me to decide what the proper penalties should be or what course of action to take.

    Most of us agree that it's a problem when some 3rd party exploits some creation commercially without giving a damn to the creator and even some hardcore pirates I know agree with that so the notion of copyright is actually generally accepted. What is NOT accepted is the implementation of such notion.

    In any case, file sharing will always be there to allow access to culture. Regardless of how much the MAFIAA and the likes try to violate such right.

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