Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Copyright Hijack

“What’s going on right now is a total conspiracy amongst all of the record companies and the music society, ’cause so many of those records, samples were done with no law around it. They took care of each other under the table. They took the money from the rappers, they charged them, told them they was paying me. They were splitting it amongst themselves.”
George Clinton

There is a common music quiz question, “Who wrote “This Land is Your Land”?

Woody Guthrie is credited as the songwriter. However, Guthrie is famous for writing lyrics to melodies of other songs, so in this case, the melody came from a song called “When The Worlds On Fire” by the Carter Family. So in 2004, the holders of Guthrie’s Copyrights, threatened a website with a lawsuit, who more or less did the same thing as Guthrie. They added new lyrics to the same tune.

So who is Copyright benefiting here?

What about the story of “Happy Birthday To You”. In 1893, kindergarten teachers Mildred and Patty Hill, wrote a song called ‘Good Morning to All’ for their students. In the 1920’s, the melody from that song evolved and the lyrics kind of changed to ‘Happy Birthday to You.” The song’s publisher, Summy Co. copyrighted both the songs and in the 80’s Warner/Chappell bought the company. Since then, Warner/Chappell has been collecting approximately $2 million a year in licensing fees for a song that is 100 years old.

So who is Copyright benefiting here?

The best part of Copyright is when government bills extending the terms of copyright. In Jamaica, the copyright term is now 95 years from the death of the author, or 95 years from publication for government and corporate works. What is made worse, is that the term extension, also retroactively went back to January 1962, which meant “that works that have already passed into the public domain in Jamaica are now to be wrenched back out again” and put under Copyright.

So who is Copyright benefiting here?

In all instances, Copyright is benefiting a corporation.

But, wait a minute isn’t copyright meant to benefit the creator and then the public domain.

In the UK, the Government wants people to respect Copyright, so their answer is for the High Courts to make it illegal to rip music off a CD or put DVDs onto hard drives that you legally purchased while streaming services tell us “we don’t want to own content, we just want to access it”.

Meanwhile, when legal services are made available at a price point that agrees with people, something magical happens. Money is made from recorded music.

In the UK, there are on average 500,000,000 streams a week. In one year that figure has doubled. That is a lot of money coming into the recording labels coffers. Do the math!

In Spain streaming payments are proving to be the recording industry’s savior. Isn’t it funny when legal services are made available at a price point that the public likes, piracy becomes obsolete.

So who is Copyright benefiting here?

500 million streams a week is a decent amount of money going to the record labels.

But due to heavy lobbying from the film and music industries, the UK Government plans to raise the online piracy prison sentence to 10 years while artists thank piracy for bringing fans to their concerts.

“I just want people to have access to my music. If there was no piracy, why can I sell out 20,000 people every time in Brazil? Is it because of how many records we sold in the shops? Of course not.”
Dave Guetta

If the above sounds familiar, it should, as a lot of metal artists have said the same thing. Watch Flight 666 and see what the Maiden guys have to say about selling out Costa Rica, India, Mexico and other parts of Central and Southern America. Those ticket sales and merchandise sales came from people who obtained their music illegally.

The best answer to piracy is to accommodate it.

Look back to the book pirates in the 1500s. The printing press (new technology of the time like the Internet) came out in 1440. This led to the Governments of the time to give certain Publishers a monopoly (like Copyright) on printing books. This led to issues between the publishers that didn’t have any rights to print books. So their response was to become pirates.

Eventually, these pirates or idealists started to be accommodated and more legal licenses given to various Publishers. Piracy problem, solved.

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