I have a Google Alert set up called “Copyright Music”. Each day, I get five to ten alerts about Copyright stories.
Let’s not kid ourselves about Copyright in 2015. It is a monopoly that is controlled by greedy corporations who contribute nothing of value to the public domain or to the music industry.
A lost Beatles concert film from February 1964 (51 years ago) has been stopped from getting released because Sony and Apple Corps (The Beatles label) took the film makers to court screaming copyright breaches.
The breach is due to the film containing eight songs out of twelve that are still under Copyright.
So who is Copyright benefiting here?
You need to remember that it was due to a lack of copyright on standard blues and folk classics that benefited the British Rock invasion in the Sixties and Seventies. I can tell you that between 1955 and 1975, no song recorded 51 years ago, in other words from 1904 to 1924 was still under copyright. And look at the music we got.
It is due to copyrights expiring that we have a song from the 19th-century by a little known guitarist called Francisco Tartego now known as “The ‘Nokia tune”.
Who knew back in the 19th century that when he wrote the song called “Gran Vals” would end up being one of the most-played songs in music history.
So what we have here is a situation where corporations who hold the copyrights to old songs, fighting tooth and nail to keep these copyrights. And these greedy corporations are changing laws to suit their business models.
Copyright exists to create incentives for artists to make new works. Extending the rights for recordings made in the 1970s and earlier doesn’t encourage new music. At best, it might generate some income for the small number of “oldies” labels and rights holders whose recordings still have commercial value.
There is no greater Copyright sin than the case against Men At Work. The band lost a court case in 2010 because a judge found that a 10 second flute riff in the 1981 song “Down Under” copied parts of a song called “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree” from 1934.
As the article states;
“Kookaburra is a simple, four-bar tune. Men at Work were found liable for copying two of these bars. The Court found that this copying was sufficient to award Larrikin Music Publishing – the current owners of Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree – 5% of Down Under’s royalties from 2002 onwards.”
The disconnect here is that people/company who didn’t even write the song “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gumtree” suing the Men At Work writers almost 30 years after the release of their song and 67 years after the “Kookaburra” song was released.
So who is Copyright benefiting here?
Remember copyright is designed to promote creativity. The writer of the song has passed away. On death, all copyright used to cease and the works would fall into the Public Domain. It hasn’t been that way for at least 60 years.
Led Zeppelin who are no strangers to infringement lawsuits have another one on their hands, albeit 43 years later from when “Stairway To Heaven” was released.
Expect Metallica to cop a few lawsuits in the future once the copyrights to some obscure NWOBHM songs end up with Corporations. Just think of the songs “Welcome Home” and “Enter Sandman”. If i was Metallica Inc, I would be the ones purchasing the rights to the NWOBHM songs they copied otherwise a lawsuit will eventuate.
If you need further evidence about how important Copyright is to corporations (instead of artists) look no further than the donations these corporations give to politicians.
Since Copyright became a financial windfall for the Corporations that hold the rights to songs, we have those same corporate entities via their lobby groups donating to political parties in the name of Copyright.