Canada Extends Copyright Terms, Finally Giving Musicians Who Released Works More Than 50 Years Ago A Reason To Create
from the INCENTIVES! dept
For reasons no more sound than it possibly felt a bit inadequate when comparing copyright term length with its next-door-neighbor, Canada has increased the copyright term for sound recordings and performances from 50 years to 70 years. Supposedly, this will spur on further creative efforts in the future, seeing as the previous copyright term length brought about a creative drought spanning nearly two decades -- one that commenced shortly after the end of World War II.
This move will allow Canada to keep apace of the United States' contributions to the public domain by ratcheting that number closer to the desired "zero." This should also trigger a massive explosion in creation, seeing as many recording artists will now be able to monetarily support their record labels far into their golden years (theirs -- not the record labels'). This will also serve to keep the recordings out of the hands of deadbeats… like libraries… or archivists.
Michael Geist figures the TPP is behind this copyright extension.
The TPP is nearing the end game and the U.S. is still demanding many changes to Canadian copyright law, including copyright term extension for all works (not just sound recordings). The Canadian government’s strategy in recent years has been to enact reforms before the trade agreements are finalized in order to enhance its bargaining position. For example, it moved forward with notice-and-notice rules for Internet providers without the necessary regulations in order to have the system in place and protect it at the TPP talks. It may be trying to do the same here by extending term on sound recordings and hoping that that concession satisfies U.S. copyright demands.This outside pressure would seem to be the prime motivator. It certainly isn't coming from within the country -- not even from the expected cheerleaders of upwardly-mobile copyright terms.
[J]ust last year the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conducted a major review of the music industry in Canada with dozens of witnesses taking the time to appear or submit briefs. The final report and the government’s response never raise the term of protection for sound recordings and performances as a concern.But Canadian citizens shouldn't get too upset by this wholly expected turn of events. After all, as the head of Music Canada (RIAA, but maple-flavored) points out, an increasingly empty public domain is much better for the public than the alternative.
"With each passing day, Canadian treasures like Universal Soldier by Buffy Sainte-Marie are lost to the public domain. This is not in the public interest. It does not benefit the creator or their investors and it will have an adverse impact on the Canadian economy.”Perhaps this argument could be repurposed for income tax: "Contributing money to public funds is not in the public interest. It does not benefit the guy who wants to keep all that money for himself." The "public interest," apparently, is whatever benefits the labels represented by Music Canada, rather than any other commonly-accepted definition.
Perhaps the worst excuse for this unneeded extension is this: it helps producers and musicians catch up with the positively surreal copyright terms songwriters and composers enjoy.
Songwriters and performing artists both contribute to the success of a recording. In Canada, the copyright in musical works subsists for the life of the songwriter plus 50 years. Performing artists are not treated equally, as their copyrights expire 50 years after the recording is made. Term extension to 70 years after recording or release partially addresses this disparity.The smarter move would be to adjust the lengthier term down, rather than crank the shorter terms up. But once you've handed out this extension to a set of creators, you'll never be allowed to roll it back. The creators may recognize the ridiculousness of this arrangement, but those that benefit the most from extended terms -- the middlemen -- have enough clout to ensure copyright protections constantly expand.