EU votes tomorrow on copyright term extension: act now!

It's down to the wire for copyright term extension in Europe: the EuroParl votes tomorrow morning on whether sound recordings are going to get extra decades of copyright. This, after all the actual economic and policy experts have weighed in to say that this won't generate any substantial income for artists (but will put hundreds of millions of euros into the pockets of a few giant record companies), and will doom huge swaths of European musical history to obscurity because no one will be able to figure out who it belongs to, so no one will be able to re-issue it.

Term extension has been a failure around the world. In the US, it's created a disastrous mountain of "orphan works" — more than 98% of the works in copyright, according to findings from the Supreme Court's hearing of Eldred v Ashcraft — that can't be brought back to life and will likely disappear before they enter the public domain.

Make no mistake: most artists will receive as little as &Euro;0.50 from this measure, and the major labels that screwed them will get millions. And the public will pay those millions for music that, by all rights, should now be free after having had its full 50 years in copyright.

Some of the particular problems are:

The extension of copyright to 95 or even 70 years will increase the revenue of trust funds of deceased performers instead of living performers.

Many performers cannot produce proof for the performances they participated in during the past decades. It then becomes difficult to assess their rights to payments.

The proposed regulation could cause legal uncertainty for all existing audiovisual productions as it will be unclear if the material used is subject to sound copyright.

There is a risk that all material that is not commercially viable will not be marketed by the copyright owners and will become inaccessible for public use.

Small record companies currently publishing copyright-free material risk going bankrupt.

Europeans: it is never too late to act. Get in touch with your MEP before the vote and let them know you support a sound copyright policy for Europe.

Act now for Sound Copyright: instructions for contacting your MEP

European Parliament Votes on Copyright Term Extension Tomorrow

(Thanks, Rufus!)