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Music Copyright In EU Extended To 70 Years 395

Posted by kdawson
from the how-about-residuals-for-my-lines-of-code dept.
rastos1 writes "The European Parliament extended the copyright in the EU for the performers of musical works from 50 to 70 years. The legislation will be reviewed in 3 years. The European Commission will consider extending the scope to audiovisual works too." So performers will collect for 20 more years from the date of performance; composers' rights already extend to 70 years beyond their deaths. Update: 4/26 at 12:15 GMT by SS: Reader rimberg points out that while the copyright extension was passed in the European Parliament, it is now being held up in the Council of Ministers awaiting further debate on the issue.
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Music Copyright In EU Extended To 70 Years

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  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rog-Mahal (1164607) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:10PM (#27718173)
    What artist is going to live long enough for this to even matter? Sounds like another way for companies to wring a few more euros from the public.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Martin Blank (154261) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:25PM (#27718249) Journal

      Someone once posted some information about the average income for copyright holders past certain timeframes. IIRC, the average residual income for most performers after something like 20 years was very little, basically amounting to a few dollars per year. Let's face it -- Elvis Presley is the highest-paid dead performer, and the remaining Beatles and their estates may be collecting serious residuals, but they are by far the exceptions (and who really wants Yoko Ono to continue getting money off of Lennon's genius?). How much are Fine Young Cannibals making on residuals? Sister Sledge? 1910 Fruitgum Company? Those are Top 100 performers from 1989, 1979, and 1969, respectively. I expect they (or their survivors) are making their money either on the smaller tour circuits, or in professions that don't involve being on-stage.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:23AM (#27718849)

        who really wants Yoko Ono to continue getting money off of Lennon's genius?

        The existence of long-lived copyright corporations like Sony and Disney means artists (not just their descendants and other hangers-on) CAN profit - while living - from proceeds after their deaths. The rights to the music are more valuable now because of the revenue they are expected to generate in the future. Michael Jackson, for instance, might have to sell off the rights to his music to stay financially afloat. But if those rights were to perish with him, the companies who will soon be bidding for those rights would bid much less.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's pure speculation though. You're arguing that artists' rights are worth more provided that a potential buyer for those rights happens to make projections of the future popularity and consumer buying patterns which show a significant amount will be earned in the 20 year time slice from death of author + 50 up to death of author + 70 years.

          Not only are predictions over such long timeframes notoriously unreliable, but it's a self serving argument for extending copyright forever on dubious grounds: Simp

        • Hell of a poor rationale for locking up our culture.

          This change of law increases the value of something already produced. I guess the copyright cartels are arguing that they are creating wealth, when really they're printing money. Further to that, the cost to society is not even considered.

          This is yet another example of uncreative trolls, completely estranged from the artistic process, lining their pockets with silver.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Draek (916851) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:03AM (#27718479)

      Live? copyright already lasts for the author's entire lifetime, what's being discussed here is whether to continue protecting it for fifty or seventy years past that.

      No, this isn't about the artists and has never been. It could be argued that this is about the artists' families, but practically no parent in this world supports his children financially until they're 50. This is simply the next step in the RIAA and MPAA's campaign to get their precious "infinity minus one" [] copyright lenght in order to destroy the very idea of public domain.

    • Why the facade? We know that they're going to keep raising the length of copyright every 10 or so years indefinitely, so why not just skip the trouble and say copyright ownership lasts forever.

      Heck, they could make it retroactive. It'd be fun to discover you're one of Mozart's kin and get a little cash.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:29AM (#27719345) Journal

      The problem I have is not so much the copyright extension - it's the ex post facto fashion that it's being done. Changes to copyright law should not change the terms of existing copyrights.

      Copyrights were originally an arrangement to promote public works by letting the creators have a monoply of copy rights on their works for a period of time (20 years originally) before the works become public domain.

      It's a good idea, because by ensuring that the creators can profit from their works, society is enrichened with more works in the public domain (after the copyrights expire)

      Can you imagine a deal where you pay for a number of years before you own your car, but then the car company changes the deal just before your term is up so you have to pay for another 5 years before you get your car?

      Changing terms for EXISTING copyrights is, in effect, a similar situation - the artist knew the deal going in, there is already a clear 'no ex post facto law' ban in the constitution, and by never changing the term of existing copyrights, you limit the incentive to extend them until the heat-death of the universe!

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:12PM (#27718183) Homepage

    ... do not allow the transfer of Copyrights to other parties.

    I suppose it wouldn't change much... the big music publishers would just place the artists into further eternal debt in order to continue to collect their money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:13PM (#27718187)

    ..and the public.

    According to the approved legislation, if producers, 50 years after the publication of a phonogram, do not make it available to the public, performers can ask to terminate the contract they signed to transfer their rights to the label.

    That would SO never pass in the US.

    • Okay, so the producers air an infomercial on local public access in Middle of Nowhere, Montana at 3 AM on Christmas morning offering the phonogram for sale for $499.99. Doesn't that technically, according to the letter of the law, satisfy the requirements of "making it available to the public"?
  • by gringofrijolero (1489395) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:13PM (#27718191) Journal

    and that's how people will treat it. It tears down any pretext of respect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:15PM (#27718199)

    I did some work years ago helping to build a commercial building. Several in fact..

    I want a cut of their profits for the next 100 years!

    They're stealing from me!

  • What ever it takes to protect virtual property I guess.

  • That's okay (Score:5, Funny)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:20PM (#27718219)
    I've reduced the copyright duration I'm willing to observe to 0 years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've reduced the copyright duration I'm willing to observe to 0 years.

      How would you feel if your boss decided to do the same with your paycheck? Or are you trying to tell us that your work deserves compensation while the work of others does not?

      That seems a little hypocritical to me. Maybe you have no idea how hard it is to learn a song for a performance let alone the effort it requires to write an arrangement of a piece of a completely new song from scratch.

      If you only knew how much effort it takes, maybe you would actually respect the rights of others and be willing to

      • How would you feel if your boss decided to do the same with your paycheck? Or are you trying to tell us that your work deserves compensation while the work of others does not?

        No, actually we are telling you that the method you are using to get paid is fucked. We have nothing against artists and scientist getting rewarded, but we do become somewhat pissed off if they decide that they will kick us in our collective faces, violate our basic rights, corrupt our politicians to get them to write laws defying bas

      • Re:That's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:24AM (#27718581)

        Most of us Slashdotters do know how hard it is, how much effort it takes, to produce worthwhile creative content. Software is also under copyright, and there's plenty of us programmers here.

        That's precisely why we cringe at laws such as this. It is hard, it does require effort, but it's nowhere near deserving lifetime compensation let alone extend that for 70 years after your death. As far as I'm concerned, the last person ever to deserve lifetime compensation for his work was a german patent officer for what was essentially a bunch of math and, as such, uncopyrightable.

      • Re:That's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aaandre (526056) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:29AM (#27719347)

        Paying for live performances is great, the money goes to the artist in exchange of their creativity and skill.

        Paying for a performance more than once, and essentially, every time you experience it does not make sense. The artist does not make an effort every time someone hears their song.

        I pay a car mechanic to fix my car and then stop. I don't continue paying them for the rest of my life despite the fact that I continue to enjoy their effort.

        Yes, the artist may invest a lot of time and effort in their creation, and that's why they get money from every member of the audience, for each audience they perform to.

        A recording of a performance is not a performance.

        I know this may sounds harsh. The monetization of everything has created laws that don't make sense, like IP laws. The nature of IP is not material and unlike physical matter, IP is very difficult to fence off and contain. Artists are made successful by their audience, the general public.

        If not for the endlessly greedy corporations still standing between creators and their audience, things could be much simpler, with shorter copyright terms, clear ownership for every piece of media we buy and the ability to share the stuff we like.

        It is not mandatory for every successful artist to become a millionaire. Many programmers, writers, painters, inventors do create useful and beautiful works and never become very rich.

        An idea or a tune may pop in more than one head at the same time. Calling it "mine" and trying to fence it off and make everyone else pay is ridiculous.

      • Re:That's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

        by laughingcoyote (762272) <> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @05:06AM (#27719669) Journal

        How would you feel if your boss decided to do the same with your paycheck? Or are you trying to tell us that your work deserves compensation while the work of others does not?

        Actually, that's exactly the way it works for me. I don't get "residuals" on the work I do. The second I stop working, I stop getting paid too, I don't continue receiving money for my work for the rest of my life, despite the fact that it will still be benefitting my employer.

        Those who support copyright are asking for a different standard, not the same, as everyone else gets. If you are employed to do something, you continue getting paid as long as you continue the work and no longer. If you want to get paid into your retirement, either ask for a pension as a condition of your employment (at which you may not be successful) or save and invest money during your working years.

        If, on the other hand, you go into business for yourself, you must continually market and sell the products you offer. And if someone comes up with a technology that means you no longer can make money the way you once did? Tough. Find a new way to sell, find a new product, or file Chapter 11.

        Copyright is an artificially created monopoly. Its like does not exist for anyone else. I don't continue to profit from my work after it's done and sold to someone. I don't get to tell people not to share it without slipping me cash. I don't get to tell them they can't tinker with it and improve it. That's the way it should be.

        Removing copyright would simply level the playing field. Ideas aren't inherently scarce. If you can make money off selling them, or performing certain types of them, or coming up with them for people who enjoy your work, good on you. (People do sell bottled water, and water, at least in the US, is not inherently scarce and is effectively free, so it can work). If not, go find something else to do, and get paid in the same way on the same terms all the rest of us do. Quit whining that you have a "right" to a profit from doing anything at all. You have a right to try. You do not have a right to tell people they cannot share in an attempt to profit from something they could've replicated on their own.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bert64 (520050)

        If my boss decides to pay me 0, i will stop working for him... So long as i continue working, i should continue being paid for my work. Why should artists be any different? Keep performing, keep getting paid. Stop performing, stop getting paid.

        Should i have the right to continue demanding money from my boss 70 years after i have stopped working for him?

    • That's OK. We'll just increase the maximum penalty for piracy again, and lobby to make it a criminal offence.

      Sincerely, the RIAA.

  • by crazybit (918023) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:21PM (#27718223)
    Copyright laws where intended to promote creativity from artists, but by extending the years they can suck money out of one job they demonstrate they just want more money for less work.

    Current social structure won't be capable of maintaining that kind of endless resource redirection. This copyright and intellectual property nonse will have to end someday, and it's not gonna be nice for anyone.
  • Harmony (Score:5, Informative)

    by slashqwerty (1099091) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:22PM (#27718227)
    The US already grants copyright up to 70 years after the author's death. They're just doing this to harmonize their laws with the United States. But wait, in 2002 the key argument presented to the Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft is that we extended copyright to harmonize with the European Union.
    • by mog007 (677810)

      70 years in the United States? Yeah, back at the turn of the 20th century. Toward the end of the 20th, the Sonny Bono copyright act extended copyright in the United States to more than a century.

      Just check wikipedia []

      • Re:Harmony (Score:4, Informative)

        by Simetrical (1047518) <> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:24AM (#27718583) Homepage

        70 years in the United States? Yeah, back at the turn of the 20th century. Toward the end of the 20th, the Sonny Bono copyright act extended copyright in the United States to more than a century.

        Just check wikipedia []

        Read your own link. Grandparent is correct about the length of copyright. Sonny-Bono extended the duration of copyright from fifty years after the death of the author to seventy years after the death of the author. Assuming most authors live thirty years or more after they publish a given work, this will often amount to a century or more of copyright, yes. (This is all ignoring works that are written anonymously, pseudonymously, by multiple authors, unpublished, etc.)

        However, the summary makes it clear that this isn't seventy years p.m.a., it's seventy years from the date of the performance, and only applies to performances: "So performers will collect for 20 more years from the date of performance; composers' rights already extend to 70 years beyond their deaths." I don't know what the law is in the U.S. right now on duration of copyright for performances, or whether this harmonizes with it at all.

        In 1900, by the way, the maximum length of copyright was 28 years from first publication, nowhere close to 70 years. In 1909 it was 56 years, still less than 70. According to, again, your own link.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jeti (105266)

      The US already grants copyright up to 70 years after the author's death.

      The EU has extended the rights of the performers, not the authors. The US does not grant comparable rights to performers at all.

  • by Bredero (1154131) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:25PM (#27718251)
    TFA doesn't clearly state that for this to come into effect it needs to be approved by every single EU member state. It is rumoured that Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia and Romania are opposed to this.
  • At the bottom of the page: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The EU would do well to actually comprehend that concept.
  • by tsa (15680)

    I always knew corruption is legal in America, but now it seems it's also legal here in Europe. How else can normal thinking people come up with this? No one but the likes of the RIAA/MPAA benefit from this.

    I have a theory that every government has a cellar full of lockers somewhere for the politicians to leave their brains before entering parliament.

  • Artificial scarcity does NOT promote science and the useful arts! Let's pray our lawmakers eventually legislate a way for IP rights holders to profit from their creations without creating artificial scarcity. This philosophy has caused countless deaths due to its affects on generic drugs.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      You're thinking of patents. No one has ever died because the drug they needed was copy-righted.

  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:37PM (#27718327) Homepage

    From the fine article: Composers already enjoy copyright protection for 70 years after their death.
    Does that mean composers have even more fun in heaven, or the fire in hell is turned down a bit for them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kanweg (771128)

      It means they're earning money even while decomposing.

      (derivative joke stolen from Roger von Oech)

  • All right, I don't see the sense of making it more than 10 years... 20 is all right I guess. 30? Ok, maybe, but 50?!! And they extended it to 70???!
  • by wdhowellsr (530924) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:50PM (#27718403)
    I'm actually happy that they are extending the copyright of these works. The beauty is that a hundred years from now they will actually laugh at the fools that expect you to pay to watch the crap of the past century.

    Disney and others will suddenly find themselves fighting a loosing war against completely unique Movies, Music, Animation and every other forms of art. Instead of realizing that Walt Disney could possible be remembered for a thousand years by providing a seed to future innovation, they will regard him as a greedy twentieth century materialist that offered nothing for people of the twenty-first century and beyond.

    The dark ages provided a clean break and the new age of reasoning. It's quite likely that the arrogance of the artists of today will lead to another age of which they have no part.

    William D Howell Sr

    "Memory is Fleeting, Inspiration Eternal"
    • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:00AM (#27718751) Homepage Journal

      "The beauty is that a hundred years from now they will actually laugh at the fools that expect you to pay to watch the crap of the past century."

      It probably won't unfold that way. The works will fall out of fashion--all the quicker because fewer people will make derived works due to cost--and this will cause them to be forgotten entirely. In the future, even if a song has been entirely forgotten and no one even knows who to contact for the copyright to the song it won't be able to be used in, say, a documentary because no one will take the chance of a lawsuit when a copyright holder finally steps forward. And this is how culture dies. Locked away in a lawyers file cabinet.

  • 5 years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sanosuke001 (640243) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:58PM (#27718459)
    Copyright and Patents should be MAX of 5 years. They are supposed to give the author a limited monopoly in order to facilitate future works/inventions. It is to the point of absurdity and, frankly, is disgusting.
  • Seems to me like (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SupremoMan (912191)

    Seems to me like it's less about the originator of works making lots more money, than preventing anyone but the originator of the works from making any money.

    Though the talk about "audiovisual" has me thinking. Are movie scripts/ideas counted as audiovisual, or simply printed works? Cause we all know the movie business loves to redo all movies that have been successful every few decades.

  • How long does it take the wave to brake and hit the shore shit. They are creating laws that only impoverish us by forcing us to pay for culture when it should be free. Our education will suffer by these laws as well. We are selling out our freedom and the futures freedom with these ridicules laws. I am currently in the process of working on my music cd. I can not believe any audience I might get is going to appreciate me if I use this copyright to protect my creations in order to make money for lazy fucks
  • by voss (52565) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:32AM (#27718637)

    14 years.

    The US constitution had a similar copyright law from 1789 to 1909, 14 years + 14 year extension if requested, and you had to file for the copyright and the extension no reward for laziness.

    The purpose of copyright is to encourage creative arts not to make heirs and corporations wealthy.

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:06AM (#27718787)
    ... something like 20 years is more realistic. A reduction is what's needed, anything else is a step backward.
  • by NewbieV (568310) <{victor.abrahams ... {at} {}> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:23AM (#27718847)

    According to this paper [], optimal copyright duration is 14-15 years.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:29AM (#27719349)

    The IPI and other industry groups like to talk about the billions lost to piracy on the internet. But what they've done here dwarfs that. When you copy a song in violation of copyright you "steal" it once from one person or one company for a few years or however long goes by until you delete it or lose the disk its saved on.

    But what has happened here is that the industry groups have stolen every single song written or recorded in the last 70 years from every single citizen of the EU for a duration of at least 20 whole years. The scale of their theft is many orders of magnitude greater than the worst case scenario for "internet piracy."

    As far as I'm concerned, any rights owner that supports or benefits from any copyright term extension legislation has zero standing to complain about piracy. They broke the social contract that was in place when they created the music. Just because they have co-opted our so-called representatives to put a rubber-stamp of legality on their contract violation doesn't give them the moral high-ground in the conflict. They want new terms? Well, the only terms they deserve are a termination of their copyrights, termination with extreme prejudice.

  • Proportions? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by haeger (85819) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @04:18AM (#27719517)

    A pharmaceutical company that pours billions of dollars into research and tials to finally develop a drug that takes away disease gets a 20 year patent.

    An automaker that develops new type of breaks that saves peoples lives gets a 20 year patent.

    Someone who goes "la la la" into a microphone gets 70 year copyright.

    Yes, I know that patents and copyright aren't exactly the same but still. The proportions are WAY off here.

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @06:17AM (#27719917)
    Keith Richards will keep playing? Holy mother ... please make it stop. This is against nature and all that's good and true.
  • With the conviction of The Pirate Bay administrators having immediately abolished all filesharing, the EU has approved an extension of sound copyright to seventy years past the point of theoretical death, and death to seventy years past actual death [].

    The media industry sponsored move is intended to properly suppress the very notion of the production of unapproved works of art. The major record companies' value proposition has changed from being the only people you can get music from to being the only people who will stop you getting music. "We own all the back catalogs we've been buying up," said Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfmann, the luckiest sperm in the whole USA, "and YOU CAN'T HAVE THEM! And we'll sue your grandmother's ass if you try going around us!"

    Without an extension of copyright, the dead might never record again. "If I'd known in 1958, when the copyright in 'Move It' was due to expire in 2008, that the copyright in 'Move It' would in fact expire in 2008, would I have bothered? I don't bloody think so!" said Sir Cliff Richard (died 1961). "I can rest safe in the knowledge that my mouldering corpse will not feel ripped off by this turn of events, and that my many, many descendants can continue to live off 'Summer Holiday' for the term of their rather unnatural lives. Remember that I am a born-again Christian and non-drinker, so beer and hookers mean and meant nothing to me. Money, however, is next to Godliness."

    Feargal Sharkey of UK Music stressed the necessity of the move to his never having to write another song after "Teenage Kicks." "I urge you to picture a world in which Girls Aloud and Jason Donovan have no motivation to record."

    The government's Cowell Report recommended that copyright should be reduced to one year, software patents made a hanging offence, Mickey Mouse declared an unperson and musicians told to stop whining and get a real bloody job like the rest of us. "It's not like there's some sort of national shortage of bad pop records," said Sir Simon, "although a world in which Jive Bunny recordings irretrievably disintegrate into dust before they could possibly enter the public domain does have a certain appeal. Nevertheless, we desperately need to demotivate surplus pop star wannabes. I urge you to picture a world in which Girls Aloud and Jason Donovan have no motivation to record."

    Richard Dawkins spoke in favour of the perpetual unavailability of music, as per his new book The Art Delusion. "'Music' appears to be an entirely subjective phenomenon with little or no objective measurements possible — much like any other brand of snake oil or balderdash. Music seems to be a sort of virus on human consciousness, parasitically sapping the collective intelligence of the human race." He defended his own attendance at his local church's Christmas carols: "I'm only putting them at their ease so they let their guard down while I work on plans for mass re-education camps for the sufferers of musical appreciation."

  • by freaker_TuC (7632) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @07:28AM (#27720157) Homepage Journal

    Artist collection agencies, like Sabam [] gets money from all the artists, dead or alive, which they've got their exclusive contract with.

    To my opinion, it's purpose is not to protect the artist, but those who collect afterwards....

    I've been writing about this exclusive-licensing-crap limiting our (Belgian) artists at large.

    Be sure to check out Sabam, really for the common? [] & Music industry, wake up call for alternative licensing! [] for more information...

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries