So despite the continuing massive discussion and innovation surrounding Free Software, the Creative Commons and so on we get news that our current 50 year copyrights will be extended to possibly 90 years. Think Beatles and Rolling Stones still be protected past 2050… Like it or not but Paul and Mick won’t need the money then.
The facile arguments presented are that this will allow record companies to earn more money to help them find and nurture new talent. What? A very quick search shows that in 2004 EMI reported group operating profit (EBITA) of £249.3 million, for example. Would, say, £9.3 million make a big difference to new talent in the UK – I think so. There’d still be a juicy £240m to play with.
Almost doubling the the copyright terms is about greed and fear of what the world would look like for the major labels when their most bankable records expire. Record companies are in a not very pleasant middle-man position. Instead of reinventing themselves they choose to cling onto the past and make us all suffer in the process.
Lessig and others have very clearly argued that copyright is a two-way deal, it’s not just for the benefit of the creators and their licensors. Society as a whole is supposed to benefit from copyright and patent law – where’s the upside for music lovers here?