As a fan of music and the public domain it’s hard to understand why longer copyright durations are requested from the Corporations that control/hold the majority of copyrights. The majority of the music that I like was under copyright when I was born and by the time I die, it will still be under copyright. So how is that benefiting the creator in creating more works (who will be long gone) and the public who are meant to build off previous works because that is how culture thrives.
Remember, copyright was designed to give the creator a monopoly on their works for a certain period of time so that the creator can monetize their work, which in turn provides an incentive to create further works.
So without really realising it, we (the public) have a copyright law that more or less lasts a lifetime.
Let’s use “Smoke On The Water” as an example. It was released in 1972. Copyright on the work is meant to last the lifetime of the songwriters plus 70 years. The male life expectancy is 80 years. The songwriters listed for “Smoke On The Water” are Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Jon Lord (RIP).
Let’s start with Jon Lord. Due to his death in 2012, his copyright in the song will expire in 2082. However the song will still remain under copyright due to the later deaths of the other members.
Let’s assume that all of the members live to the life expectancy age of 80 years old. That would mean Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover would have an end date of 2025. Add another 70 years to that and the copyright that they hold in the song would expire in 2095. However at this point in time the song is still under copyright.
Ian Paice is born in 1948, therefore his life expectancy end date would be 2028. Add another seventy years to that and the copyright monopoly held by the corporations on “Smoke On The Water” will finally expire in 2098, 126 years after the song was released. That is when, the public (provided that no more retroactive extensions are added) are allowed to use the song to build other works and derivative versions.
So the next time a copyright maximalist insists that copyright has an expiry date, tell them they are full of it. Copyright in reality has no expiry date during our life time. Remember in the US, the “Copyright Term Extension Act” extended the copyright of old works that should have been in the Public Domain to 2019.
And guess what the copyright corporations are gearing up for?
Yep, you guessed it. They are gearing up for another secret lobby/bribery effort to extend it. Using PIRACY as their weapon of choice, the lobby groups are pushing hard for the Government to step in and protect their business models.
Maybe they should focus on paying their artists accurately and properly. A story over at Hollywood Reporter, mentions about how Sony Music Entertainment is getting sued by the music company “Thursday by 19 Recordings” for royalties not paid, to the tune of $10 million. The interesting part of the case is how the record labels treat streaming payments.
The lawsuit is making the claim that streaming payments to the artists need to be classified as licensed works and not as sold works. The difference between royalty payments for licensed works and sold works is huge.
On what about this for a piece of innovation from the entertainment industries. Poor old LeaseWeb, the web hosting provider. One if it’s clients was Megaupload.com. As we all know, Megaupload was taken down in an Osama Bin Laden style raid in a classic example of overreach by the entertainment industries. The law enforcement bodies took action on this case based on evidence provided/lobbied by the Entertainment Industries namely the MPAA. Anyway, fast forward to 2014 and LeaseWeb is now being sued for allowing the hosting of websites that infringed on copyrights. While we are at it, let’s sue the car manufacturers for allowing us to infringe on the speed limits.
In Australia, the Attorney General, George Brandis wants the ISP’s to outlay money and carry the burden of protecting the business models of the entertainment industries. How about the entertainment industries releasing content on time and at a reasonable price. Graduated response schemes haven’t worked in France, the US and New Zealand, so let’s keep on pushing for them.
And to make this story even more interesting, the lobby group that is pushing for this three strikes rule has donated close to AU$4 million to the Liberal and Labor parties since 1998.
The Australian Screen Association (ASA), formerly known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) who is well-known for the triple knockdown they received from iiNet in the courts. So of course, since the 2012 ruling, ASA has lobbied the government hard for a graduated response scheme. ZDNet did a great piece on this around the donations.
Keeping with the Australia theme, I just finished reading a story over at News.com.au about how Foxtel (the ONLY Pay TV provider in Australia) is planning on taking on the people who pirate “Game of Thrones” with a new cut-price plan. Before we get into the new cut price plan, it’s important to set the scenario.
Foxtel holds the exclusive rights to the “Game of Thrones” season 4 run in Australia. This means that the only legal way to watch the fourth series of “Game Of Thrones” in Australia is to pay for a subscription. Nice innovation.
Obviously this is an unpopular choice. No one wants to take out an expensive Pay TV subscription just for a TV show that has a 10 week run. Foxtel has another package called Foxtel Play, which is pay TV over the internet.
So Foxtel is saying to people, hey, if you have a Foxtel Play account, which costs $25 a month for a package based on a genre and of course the movie genre/Showtime is not included in that package, however if you chuck in another $35 over three months, you can watch “Game Of Thrones” legally.
So in reality, that three month run is going to cost a fan of the show, $110 to watch Game of Thrones legally in Australia. That is $75 (from the $25 a month for a Foxtel Play package that will still continue after the shows run is over) plus the $35 for the Showtime channel.
Yep, that is typical innovation from the entertainment industries.
Or how about the comments from John Landgraf, CEO of FX Network and Rick Cotton, Senior Counsellor of IP protection at NBC Universal.
“The legal copy of a property that’s been placed online can then be pirated.”
Yep, much the same way a legal DVD and Blu-Ray can be copied. Much the same way a legal airing of the TV show can be copied. Much the same way a legal VHS cassette could be copied.
Yep, sounds like typical innovation from the entertainment industries to me. I also like the part how they are trumping up the stats that piracy websites make a whopping $4.4 million annually on ads. If that is the case, then why don’t the entertainment industries offer the same service as the piracy websites do and make that same money. That is one way to compete with free. The reason why they don’t do it, is that the licensing deals they have around the world is worth way more. A lot more.
The audience for entertainment products has changed. Napster changed everything. That happened almost 15 years ago. So why haven’t the entertainment industries given the audience what Napster did 15 years ago.