Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

The Public Domain Issue

January 1 of each new year is meant to be when certain works come out of copyright and into the Public Domain. However, each year, the Corporations in charge seem to lobby hard to get the terms extended. As such, the public domain is becoming less and less.

An artist is bringing a class action suit against Spotify for Copyright Infringement. It’s a perfect example of how far removed copyright is at this point in time, especially when Spotify obtained the music they have on their service from the record labels. The users didn’t upload it. Is YouTube such a perfect citizen when it comes to paying for mechanical licenses?

The case to free “Happy Birthday To You” a song penned in 1893 and still under the copyright control of a corporation is another example of the great Copyright Hijack.

The whole “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” copyright suit is another example of what a farce copyright is. A corporation had the rights to the song and they made a lot of money from licensing it out. Now a judge has ruled that the rights will go back to the children of the creators. It’s worth noting that the creators of the song died between 1975 and 1985. As far as I am concerned this song from the 1930’s is MEANT to be in the Public Domain and out of copyright. Read the article to see the absurdity of it all.

Here is another example of copyright stupidity.

Canada had shorter copyright terms, which meant early Beatles recordings entered the public domain. The record labels didn’t like this, so they lobbied/bribed hard in secret and copyright was extended on sound recordings for 20 years that are still under copyright without any debate or public discussion. Anyway a company called Stargrove Entertainment saw an opportunity to make money by releasing a CD of public domain Beatles music. By default it became a top seller in Canada and that’s when the Empire known as the Record Labels decided to strike back, because hey, the 60 year monopoly they had on the sound recordings was not enough.

Some of the Record Labels tricks included;

  • While the sound recordings are in the public domain, the compositions remain under copyright. So Stargrove paid the standard licensing fee and the record labels via the publishing companies they owned, decided to not approve the mechanical license and refunded Stargrove’s royalty payment.
  • Universal then interfered with the distributor so they could resolve “the public domain issue.”
  • Universal started posting negative reviews online of the Beatles CD.

Let’s remember the purpose of copyright. It gives the creator the right to stop people from copying their works for a certain period of time. Basically it is a monopoly given to the creator, so they have an incentive to create more works. Once upon a time that monopoly lasted 14 years and as soon as corporate entities started to make money from this monopoly, the length of time increased to life of the author plus seventy years.

In order for creators to be granted a monopoly on their works for a period of time, the trade-off was that once the copyright term expired, the works would fall into the public domain, which would mean they could be shared, adapted, improved, remixed and basically new stories be created.

I am still dumbfounded as to how people believe that a copyright term of 70 years after the death of the creator is a normal copyright term.

What incentive does a creator have to create more works when they have departed the land of the living?

It’s all about money and its driven by the blockbuster albums that continue to make money for decades. However, the majority of other creative works might have enjoyed a brief window of success and sales during a period of time and their value is very low compared to the block buster releases. Labels try to sign the artist for five albums on a 360 deal, with the promise to negotiate the original deal depending on how hot the artist becomes. It never happens without any incidence or litigation.

For example, Dokken and RATT had platinum certifications in the Eighties. If you look at their output it was five albums. The label made money and the bands saw money and success. In 2015, the value of their musical output is not the same in the eyes of the corporations compared to the value of Bon Jovi’s, Metallica, Motley Crue or Bruce Springsteen output. Metallica wasn’t as big as Ratt and Dokken in the Eighties, but we all know how that turned out after the behemoth “Black” album in the Nineties.

So from a copyright term perspective, the self-titled Metallica album is of a higher value compared to Dokken’s or RATT’s discography. And it is because of these blockbuster albums that Copyright terms get extended. Metallica and their heirs or the corporate entity that will own their rights will get richer while Dokken and Ratt fade into obscurity, locked up in 100 year copyright terms.

This article states that Copyright should be about 30 years.

Copyright should last a more-than-generous 30 years, and no longer. The Lord of the Rings would have been in the public domain in 1986, 13 years after Tolkien’s death. He would have been fine and his great trilogy would still have been written. Mickey Mouse would have been in the public domain in 1959. A tiny minority of wealthy creators would be somewhat poorer under such a scheme. But our culture would be vastly richer.

That would mean “Smoke On The Water” would be in the public domain and not locked up for a century plus. It would mean the Black Album would be in the public domain by 2021 for others to build on and enhance. It would mean that “Were Not Gonna Take It” would have entered the public domain in 2014.

I am sure Deep Purple, Metallica and Twisted Sister would be able to cope with that?

It would mean that Dokken and Ratt songs from the Eighties would be in the Public Domain for people to build upon and re-create, which means the songs live on and our culture is richer. Cast your mind back to the whole Sixties British movement, including the Beatles success is due to building upon blues works from the 1930’s.

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Imagine A World With Copyright Terms Reduced To 40 Years..

Should songs still be under Copyright forty years after they have been released?

In Australia (as well as a lot of other countries) a copyright for a sound recording or a film lasts for the life of the creator + 70 years.

In my opinion this is ridiculous.

Is this what Copyright has become? A pension fund for the creator and their family members. Also with large Corporations technically owning a lot of the copyrights of creators, it is safe to say that Copyright has become a weapon to stifle creativity.

It is common for people to see that the purpose of Copyright as a means to compensate the creator of the content. Hell, that is what Wikipedia states as well, along with the large labels and movie studios . In fact, Copyright was never designed solely for this purpose.

In Australia it was stated that the purpose of Copyright law was;
…to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. On the other hand, as copyright in the nature of a monopoly, the law should ensure, as far as possible, that the rights conferred are not abused and that study, research and education are not unduly hampered.”

In the U.S, the Constitution’s clause on Copyright and patents states:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

In today’s terms, both countries are saying that the purpose is to reward the creator and to ensure that maximum creativity is happening.

John Lennon didn’t sing imagine a world with reduced copyright terms however he should have.

Let’s just say that the copyright of a song is 40 years from when it was first released. To make the law even simpler, let’s just say that the 40 years starts from when the song is first released. So if the song is remastered 10 years later or released as a live version, it doesn’t matter. The 40 years starts from when the song is released.

That would mean that all songs from 1972 and before would have been in the public domain at the start of 2013.

That would mean albums from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Cream, Rolling Stones, Yes, Pink Floyd and many others would be in the Public Domain.

Would that affect those bands in any way?

Would it affect the people who wrote the songs?

Lets look at Led Zeppelin. If copyright is 40 years from when the song was first released that would mean that Led Zeppelin I to Led Zeppelin IV would be copyright free. That means all of those songs are available to use.

Imagine all the music that would be created by building on the material. Image all the music that would be created by remixing, sampling and re-using the songs. All of those songs would available for people to re-record without any restrictions. It will not diminish the original songs in any way. It would give them a second life and a new audience.

Why should any creator in 2013 be stifled by over-reaching copyright laws when it comes to creating art?

The acts from the Sixties and Seventies, brazenly borrowed and built upon songs that already existed. Keith Richards even said that you can’t copyright the blues. All of those bands infringed heavily on other people’s copyright. However back then the Copyright monopolies didn’t exist, so it was okay.

Surely the 40 year monopoly that artists from the Sixties and Seventies have on the music they created is sufficient compensation for their creations. However copyright is still seen as a major profit line in the business model of artists. Since the Government and the large players have focused almost exclusively on monetizing via copyright, they will argue until they are black and blue any attempt to change copyright as they see change as an attack on their incomes.

Seriously, who do you think will be holding the copyright to the Led Zeppelin songs, 10 years after Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have passed. Trust me, it will not be the family members. It will be the corporations and the record labels. They will hold the monopoly on these songs. You can see it happening now with Disney and how they are stopping Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain by lobbying for longer copyright terms.

So what new songs would these corporations be creating by holding a monopoly on the copyright. The answer is simple. NOTHING.

Remember that Copyright was also designed so people are inspired to create more. So what has Jimmy Page created in the last 15 years. The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with that either, because he can rely on his copyright monopoly and issue box sets every 2 to 3 years. Since 1990, Jimmy Page has issued 13 box sets of Led Zeppelin’s seventies output. In 23 years, Jimmy Page has released the same music, over and over again 13 times.

Remember, copyright is to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. So what happened to the further creative works.

I love Jimmy Page and he is a huge influence on me. However, apart from the excellent Coverdale/Page project and his reunion with Robert Plant, his creative output has been poor since the start of the Nineties. Even in the Eighties, Jimmy Page’s output pales in comparison to Robert Plant’s recorded output and work ethic.

By the way did you see that BitTorrent traffic is down in the U.S? How can that be, especially when the labels and the movie studios are still screaming piracy and copyright infringement.

It’s funny what some innovation can do. That is how you compete today. You innovate, not stagnate. NetFlix and YouTube account for 50% of all net traffic.

However in Europe and other parts of the world, access to the latest films and TV shows is not as instant so unauthorised BitTorrent users continue to grow there.

The labels and their back-handed politicians will argue that their six strike policy is the reason why BitTorrent traffic is down. I would argue back that all that has done is increase the use of Dark Nets.

This is what the article said on that;
“The use of “dark nets” such as Tor and encrypted digital lockers is growing in popularity. These can be harder to track.”

So get ready for the next round of b.s from the labels and their lobby groups. We need Google to do more to stop copyright infringement, we need dark nets to be busted to save our children, we need cloud services stopped because they encourage racketeering and copyright infringement on a grand scale.

They will complain about everything, except innovate. Spotify wasn’t created by the music industry. Pandora wasn’t created by the music industry. iTunes wasn’t created by the music industry. The iPod wasn’t created by the music industry. NetFlix wasn’t created by the movie industry. Napster wasn’t created by the music industry. YouTube wasn’t created by the music business.

But the entertainment industries spin it like it was them that created these legal alternatives. The truth is they where dragged kicking and screaming into these new technologies.

BitTorrent traffic down: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24911187

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