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Scarcity and Copyright

Hi all,

Saw the recent news on Openright and this leaves quite a bit frustrated, infuriated and angry. While my understanding may be flawed but this is the way I see it.

From what I understand from the news link given is that the labels and the big guys will profit from this new arrangement and not the little guys :( Also the consumers would not be able to have and remix that music (hence becoming an artist) for an additional 45 years.

From what I understand as we stand its right now (borrowed from Copyright law in England) is right now 50 years from the date of Original recording .

Copyright in a sound recording expires either (a) 50 years after the recording is made, or (b) if the recording is published during that period then 50 years from the publication, or (c) if during the initial 50 years the recording is played in public or communicated to the public then 50 years from that communication or playing to the public, provided the author of the broadcast is an EEA citizen. Otherwise the duration under the laws of the country of which the author is a national applies, unless such a duration would be longer than offered in UK law, or would be contrary to treaty obligations of the UK in force on 29 October 1993.

(Taken from wikipedia) . Now if one adds the proposed extension to the copyright term it would become 95 years. Who stands to gain, not the commons, nor so much the musician on the street, its the big labels and the rock singers.

Now while its in UK, if such a revision were to take place there is possibility of peer-pressure effects in other developed countries as well.

At some point of time its sure to reflect in newer and more stricter agreements then the TRIPS Agreement (TRIPS PLUS) which as far as India was concerned I felt we were just unprepared to know the nuances of what we were signing (or perhaps we wanted to fall in step with the rest of the world) .

Wouldn’t this extension also reflect at some point in time to additional extensions for literature, for additional patent life-term in medicine ?

Few Interesting links :-

http://journalism.berkeley.edu/projects/biplog/archive/000388.html

http://www.bilaterals.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=33

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080908-80-of-artists-would-get-30year-from-copyright-extension.html

While I don’t think creation would stop, much of the remixing culture would surely go underground and that would be a sadder state of the world :( .

Also I’m sure that I dream of a nightmare but we have seen nightmares coming true if nobody speaks out against them.

Hoping for some more light on the matter, let’s fight the good fight :)

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3 thoughts on “Scarcity and Copyright

  1. Hi Sameer,
    I disagree with you. Please be more specific as to what kind of content business are you in.

    I think you have not understood then what copyleft, creative commons and other such mediums who are trying for a balanced view.

    There are few things which you perhaps haven’t looked into :-

    a. “Your or anybody’s work” is of such outstanding quality that it would stand on its own for 100 years. For majority of the artists I don’t feel its simply true.

    b. Even if they are discovered posthumously

    http://www.picassomio.com/art-photography-guide/can-photography-prints-appreciate-in-value-over-time.html

    most likely it will be under some label or others.

    c. Alongwith Copyright comes registeration and other overheads. And whatsoever one may say, if you have to prove your copyright you have to go in the court of law.

    In fact there is a huge bank of work which people already have done and are doing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_available_under_a_Creative_Commons_License

    The kind of remixing which is happening and people are giving space for that remixing to happen, this is actually where innovation is happening.

    The older regime is what ‘DRM’ is all about where I buy an e-book and due to some technical issue or simply because the author feels the book time is over, I cannot read it anymore.

    Its not a simple black-and-white issue which you make it out to be.

  2. I’ve been in the content business for sometime now. What you are up against is not copyright, but the lack of it.

    Let me explain.

    When i create an original piece of art. It could be music, literature, painting, etc., it’s in my best interest as an artist to let the world ‘know’ this was made by me.

    Hence comes in the concept of a copyright.

    Now what happens 100 years from now when that original no longer remains with me (since i died and moved on). Who takes claim to this? Who will inherit any kind of royalties that i used to receive on it.

    THIS is actually a bigger concern for artists. That’s why given a choice, an artist would like the copyright to extend to eternity. Technically he’s right. But legally and socially, this will kill the birth of creativity since much of creativity takes inspiration from existing great works of art.

    So coming back to what i mentioned earlier – the idea that content in any form should ‘not’ be copyrighted for so long is flawed. Since within 100 years, the world will know it’s true creator.

    However, the commercial sense lies in ‘licensing’. This has worked exceptionally well in cases of Technical Patents and will wonderfully well in Art as well if artists dont mind receiving compensations against allowing other artists to borrow their names.

    This attitude will spawn the growth of a completely new direction to creativity and art.

    Sam

    P.S – these are purely my thoughts – no claims please !

  3. You have every reason to be angry. Extending the term to 95 years is totally meaningless. Why 95? Why not 100, or 200 or for ever? I can’t see any significance for the period. I think it is because there actually is no reason for selecting a particular duration. The only duration that can be said to have some meaning is the life of the author. Extending it beyond his/her life is only for the benefit of the big corporates that normally holds the copyright. Let us hope that all this will become meaningless and copyleft will finally rule!

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