Just As US Finally Realizes Copyright Terms May Be Too Long, Japan Looks To Make Them Longer
from the welfare-for-musicians dept
The only way in which retroactive copyright term extension makes sense is if copyright is a welfare system for creators, in which the public is taxed to support the estates of wealthy content creators. And, yes, it is wealthy content creators (or, rather, their children and grandchildren) who are the beneficiaries of such extensions, along with the major multinational corporations who hold most of those copyrights. Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries of extending copyright are not actual content creators, and certainly not "poor" content creators, but "incumbent holders of major back-catalogues, be they record companies, ageing rock stars or, increasingly, artists' estates." The "poor artists" who are often cited in support of such extensions are not even in the picture, because the works of poor artists who died 50 years ago are not making much money today. It's the huge rockstars' and their works that are still making money today.
So why is Japan trying to tax the public, to take away their rights, all to support the giant record labels and the grandchildren of rock stars?
Of course, this is hardly the first time this debate has come up. We wrote about a similar plan in Japan nearly six years ago, which went nowhere. Hopefully, more sensible copyright experts in Japan prevail. Either way, the fact that Japan is now a big part of the TPP, and wants to help "lead" the discussions to finalize that agreement should be seen as worrying -- since it may seek to put in clauses that would limit the abilities of countries like the US to roll back copyright terms.