This is Cock

So, our own government having decided that there should be no extension of copyright upon mechanical recordings, there\’s an end run around the issue and we get it imposed from Europe.

The rock dinosaurs of the 1960s are in line for a spectacular windfall after the EU announced plans yesterday to extend musicians’ entitlement to retrospective royalties from 50 to 95 years.

Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Cliff Richard and Roger Daltrey have all campaigned for what the record industry calls “the Beatles extension”, which will guarantee most artists royalties covering their entire careers.

The first Beatles recordings will come out of copyright in 2012 and EMI, which owns them, has been a leading campaigner for the change in legislation. Sir Cliff, 67, sees his first hit go out of copyright this year but under the EU proposal he would not lose a penny before his 113th birthday.

So why is this cock?

The point of copyright is to provide a monopoly to the creator: the argument is that if anyone can copy the creation then there will be too little creation done. We thus provide a (limited) monopoly to provide an income stream to encourage such creation.

On the other side, we recognise that such a monopoly has costs to the wider society. People can\’t copy the creation and this is a loss to that wider society. So what we want is enough or a long enough monopoly to encourage the creation with the least wider societal loss.

So, what\’s the right number?

Well, 50 years didn\’t stop Cliff, the Beatles or the Who in their creations did it? Sure, it\’s very difficult to see what hasn\’t happened (thank you M. Bastiat) but are there any musicians out there now who are not recording their works because such creations (and do note that we\’re talking about mechanical recordings here, this is nothing to do with songwriters\’ royalties) will only be protected for 50 years?

Are they cock.

There is thus absolutely no justification whatsoever for extending the term of the copyright as it won\’t do what copyright is designed to do: increase creative production.

A couple of other things:

John Smith, of the Musicians’ Union, said that thousands of unsung heroes of vinyl would benefit. “Countless session musicians who have contributed so significantly to the musical heritage of the UK will greet this recognition with delight and relief.”

Did I miss some change in the law? Since when have session musicians received royalties? It\’s a one off payment for time in the studio.

And as for Cliff:

The Shadows were not a typical backing group. They would become contractually separate from Richard, and the group received no royalties for records backing Richard.

So \’Arry. The Shadows going to get a cut of the royalties now or will they be held to the law as it was in the days when they signed the contract?

 

6 comments on “This is Cock

  1. It’s a conspiracy to extract money from the public. Just add them to the list of weasels who filch money from our pockets on a pretext. Like licensed notaries in Canada or chimney inspectors in Germany.

  2. It’s cock anyway.

    There are various different copyrights, all with different time periods under some international treaty or other (Rome?):
    – the music
    – the lyrics
    – the performance (I think, not sure)
    – the sound recording
    – the video
    – the choreography
    – the broadcast

    In other words, if you tape a live broadcast from the BBC (unless for time shifting purposes), you can be sued by the songwriters, the choreographer, the musicians, the sound recordist, the broadcaster, just about anybody.

  3. I am with Zorro. Technology is going to pass these people by. They are fiddling with copyright while the real world has moved on.

    They need a better business model. This is not it.

    And frankly, I am disgusted by the shameless greed of people like Cliff Richard. OK I’d be doing the same thing, perhaps, but on the other hand when he first sang those songs he got massive amounts of money, attention, and if he had wanted, groupies. So now he wants to change the laws to give himself even more money?

  4. Tim: “Did I miss some change in the law?”

    You didn’t miss it, Tim, it was established by case law in 1934, based on the 1911 Act.

    via the PPL:

    The case was brought against Stephen
    Carwardine & Co, restaurant proprietors of
    Bristol, asking for an injunction to restrain
    them from infringing the copyright of the 1931
    recording ‘Overture, The Black Domino’, written
    by the French composer Auber and played
    by the London Symphony Orchestra. “On the
    afternoon of February 20, 1933,” the Times
    reported solemnly, “the defendants played the
    record in their tea and coffee rooms, Baldwin
    Street, Bristol, without the plaintiffs’ consent,
    and that was the infringement complained of.”

    Mr. Justice Maugham found in favour of Sir
    Stafford Cripps, representing the plaintiffs,
    thus setting in stone the principle that the
    owners of sound recordings should henceforth
    be paid for the broadcasting and public
    performance of their copyrights.

    Tim: “Since when have session musicians received royalties? It’s a one off payment for time in the studio.”

    No. There’s a “broadcast right” associated with a sound recording, that followed the invention of electric loudspeakers and radio. It’s collected from TV, radio and places where sound recordings are performed.

    The royalty split is 50:50 between the owner of the sound recording and the musicians who performed on it. (The LSO in that test case). The PPL here collects and distributes over £100m a year from this right.

    Musicians get paid peanuts, but this is the biggest source of peanuts for many of them.

    The historical context is nicely explained here –
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/02/11/why_wireless_will_end_piracy/

    “There is thus absolutely no justification whatsoever for extending the term of the copyright as it won’t do what copyright is designed to do: increase creative production.”

    You may well get fewer musicians, unless you can persuade them all to work for nothing. But that’s another argument.

    Ye Times missed one important *new* economic incentive introduced by McCreevy. If, after 50+1 years, the sound recording copyright owner doesn’t wish to bring the recording to market, that right may revert to the performer.

    The performers can then reissue the recordings themselves, and of course keep the recording royalties.

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