How TPP will clobber Canada's municipal archives and galleries of historical city photos


Jesse writes, "Like you, I've been following the TPP news with much trepidation. My partner is a librarian-archivist, so I'm keenly away of how difficult copyright law can make the job of the average archivist. I put together a piece explaining how the TPP's copyright extension will hurt Canadian city archives, and the galleries of historical city photos we love so much." Read the rest

NZ government leaks on TPP: copyright terms will go to life plus 70 years


An official New Zealand government bulletin on yesterday's conclusion of the still-secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations accidentally confirmed something we all believed was in there all along: an extension of copyright terms to match the USA's bizarre, evidence-free, century-plus terms. Read the rest

What's the objectively optimal copyright term?


Tim Harford, the Financial Times's Undercover Economist, writes about the Happy Birthday to You court case, which finally settled the question of whether the familiar birthday song was still in copyright (it isn't) and uses that as a springboard to ask the question: how long should copyright last? Read the rest

Argentina wants to extend photographic copyright by more than 100 years


It'll go from 20 years from publication to 70 years after the photographer's death, and it's retroactive, meaning that millions of presently public domain photos reproduced online and in books will suddenly become copyright violations with gigantic penalties for all concerned. Read the rest

Jamaica's new copyright means Jamaicans pay for reggae the rest of the world gets free

Jamaica now has the third-longest copyright term in the world, and the term extension has been imposed retrospectively, all the way back to works created in 1962, the year ska burst on the public scene.

The new term only binds on Jamaicans, meaning that the currently public domain Jamaican works that are going back into copyright will be free for foreigners long before they're free for Jamaicans again, a situation that will apply to all Jamaican works produced from 1962 onward.

Jamaica has also committed to enforcing copyright on foreign works that had entered the public domain in Jamaica, meaning that Jamaicans will have to pay for imports they currently get for free.

If Jamaica hoped that this measure would bring in additional royalties for its musicians from overseas markets, then the tactic that it chose to pursue was doomed to failure from the outset. Foreign users of Jamaican copyrights are not bound by the extended copyright term; only Jamaicans are; but conversely, Jamaicans are now obliged to honor foreign copyrights for the full extended term.1 As opposition spokesperson on culture Olivia Grange put it during debate on the new law, “what will happen is that we will, in fact, be paying out to foreign copyright holders in foreign exchange for the continued use of foreign works in Jamaica, while our own rights holders will only benefit up to the 50, 70 or 80 years that exist in other countries”. So all that this measure has accomplished is that citizens of Jamaica, a developing country, will be paying more money into Hollywood's coffers, while Jamaica's own rich cultural heritage draws in not a penny more in return.

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Canada's music copyright extension will cost Canadians millions

Michael Geist writes, "Randy Bachman found himself embroiled in a public fight with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year when Harper used his song 'Takin' Care of Business' as a theme song for a major speech. Bachman said he probably would not have granted permission to use the song, since 'I don't think he's taking care of business for the right people or the right reasons.'" Read the rest

It's Internet Freedom Day: time to share MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech

To celebrate both Internet Freedom Day and MLK Day, we made a video containing the complete 17-minute 'I Have a Dream' speech... so people can share it on Facebook, Twitter, and their blogs. Doing just that is a small act of civil disobedience to celebrate the freedom that Dr. King fought for and make sure his words reach people around the globe this weekend. Dr. King said, 'one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.'