Peter from the Open Rights Group sez, "In 2009 a Directive aimed at extending the term of copyright protection for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years, which flies in the face of all the credible evidence, passed the European Parliament. This week, the plans are back in front of the European Council and may soon become law.
But there's a chance we can stop this if we make enough noise. We need people to write to their MEPs and ask them to oppose these plans and make sure the Directive gets properly debated."
I've just written to my MEPs and I'll be calling them tomorrow. We need people from across Europe to do the same if we're going to stop this. There's no credible reason to extend the copyright on works that have already been made; historically this has not enriched artists (there are vanishingly few recordings that are still commercially viable after 50 years), but it has stopped preservationists, fans, and remixers from re-issuing or re-using all those recordings, often to the point where all known copies of the works degrade and disappear.
But isn't making sure artists continue to be paid a good thing?
Yes. But this won't help the majority of artists and comes at the expense of consumers and our cultural realm. The economic evidence is stacked against the proposal. Leading IP professors, the UK government's 'Gowers Review' of IP, and independent economic analysts have all said that extending the copyright term is unwise. The Financial Times labelled the proposal 'disgraceful' in an editorial in 2009. It will likely result in higher prices for consumers. It will benefit only a small number of artists and businesses – according to a joint academic statement, signed by 80 eminent academics, including several Nobel Laureates, 96% of the economic returns will go to the major record labels and top 20% of performers. Four leading IP professors this week argued that 'If there was a policy designed to suppress social and commercial innovation, retrospective term extension would be your choice.' Large chunks of our cultural history will be locked up.
Looking at the impact on the UK, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge argued that extending the term of protection will 'likely to have a significant, negative effect, on balance of trade' and that 'it would be particularly inadvisable, given our present state of knowledge, for a rational policy-maker to extend the term of copyright in sound recordings.'