Canada Saves Public From Public Domain, Extends Copyright On Sound Recordings Another 20 Years
from the obtained-royal-assent-to-press-more-'greatest-hits'-CDs! dept
Lest it be left behind by other countries bullied into submission by US trade agreements, the Canadian government has now expanded copyright terms for recording artists from 50 years to 70 years. (It was previously passed, but has now received the Official Royal Assent.) While not as obnoxiously long as the terms afforded to songwriters (life plus 50 years… which will probably be life plus 70 before too long…), it's still a needless expansion that does little for living artists while carving another 20-year hole in the public domain.
While one would expect a less-than-balanced perspective from a trade-focused entity, Billboard's "coverage" of the ruling sounds like it was written by the recording industry itself.
Two months after the Conservative government’s Economic Action Plan 2015 for Canada included its intention to amend the Copyright Act from 50 years to 70 years, the bill has been given royal assent and is now law. That ensures that songwriters will enjoy copyright royalties from early works well into their senior years.Yes, it's the much-dreaded "public domain," which has repeatedly traveled several decades back in time to destroy nascent creative efforts. This "severely limited" time frame only extends to sound recordings. Songwriters and composers will continue to be rewarded for their creative efforts for 50 years after they're no longer able to cash royalty checks BECAUSE THEY'RE DEAD.
Now songs such as Buffy Sainte-Marie’s "Universal Soldier" -- released 50 years ago this August -- are no longer in danger of entering the public domain.
Music Canada -- the RIAA of The North -- applauds this decision.
In extending the term of copyright in recorded music, Prime Minister Harper and the Government of Canada have demonstrated a real understanding of music’s importance to the Canadian economy. Thank you. We are thrilled to see Canada brought in line with the international standard of 70 years.Except it's not really a "standard." "Standards" tend to be a bit more static. This "standard" keeps edging up periodically, mainly because of Mickey Mouse, the best unofficial lobbyist the recording and motion picture industries have ever had. It's only a "standard" because the US has kowtowed to the entertainment industry and then passed this bullying along to other countries, using secretive trade agreements and both carrot and stick. A "standard" of $500 weekly protection payments, as "agreed upon" by baseball-bat wielding thugs offering oblique threats would be similarly as "legitimate" as this supposed "international standard."
As Billboard goes on to note, national treasures like Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young would have faced the ghastly prospect of (their labels) being unable to exploit recordings from more than fifty years ago without this two-decade protection bump. Well, they likely would have continued to see royalties (life+50), but Music Canada's main patrons, not so much.
This is a win for record labels. It does next to nothing for the names listed above, other than ensure another twenty years of repackaged, decades-old songs -- not exactly the sort of "creative effort" people imagine when they talk about the advantages of copyright protection. All this does is give certain corporations the ability to wring a few more dollars out of recordings made more than 50 years ago. It will have zero impact on creative efforts going forward.