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October 21, 2014, 04:43:00 AM
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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Press Releases and Film News  |  Musicians lose copyrights to their songs - it is about time « previous next »
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Author Topic: Musicians lose copyrights to their songs - it is about time  (Read 4221 times)
Andrew
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« on: December 02, 2006, 09:43:21 PM »

This is an article from CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/01/uk.copyright.reut/index.html

I need to b***h here for a minute.  This is due to the fact that, frankly, modern society has so screwed up the intent of copyright that I am angry.  Copyright and patents were created not to "protect the rights" of the creators, but to provide them with a reward so that they would go on and make more great things to enrich society.  If you wrote and performed a song 50 years ago or created a terrific widget - great, now it is time for society as a whole to benefit.  Which means you lose your sole ownership.

It goes into an argument I got into with some other Marines after we watched "Flags of Our Fathers."  Some complained about how the men were treated after their brief fame.  Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon were left to become a poor drunk farmer and janitor after the spotlight moved from them.  Now, the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima definitely deserve respect, but there is a limit to all things.  I could not imagine doing one good thing in my life, then expecting to live off the glory of that for the rest of my days.  Such an attitude is selfish to the extreme.  In the film, Doc Bradley was the character I admired.  After the war, he worked, raised a family, and did not try to live on what he had once done.  He realized that you needed to be a productive member of society, not just someone who performs one act, then expects the world to provide for you from that moment on.

Copyright is broken, screwed, especially since the unethical extension of it by our elected officials.  A song or a movie was created by individuals, using what life and society had taught and shown them.  Society, as a whole, deserves that back and not after 70 or 95 years.

While the reviews and creative work on this website do fall under copyright, I know that should not be "forever."  It is in my will that, upon my death, the reviews and content becomes public domain.

Off soapbox.  Somebody should take it away from me.
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Andrew Borntreger
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2006, 06:40:20 AM »

Pretty obvious I'm not a lawyer, but copyright issues always fascinate me, so take anything I say here with huge amounts of salt.

How would this affect the copyrights of these songs in the US? Is the copyright only applicable in the country of first issue or initial publication?

As I understand it, copyright and patents are basically "legal limited time monopolies" that allow the creator to profit from their idea or creation for a reasonable amount of time, the financial rewards allowing them to continue to create for the benefit of the culture and society, ideally. Then the idea is that the work can be used, sampled, copied, etc. by anyone, again for the benefit of society at large. Art and culture not existing in a vacuum, inspiration and variation can then florish as later artist, writers, creators, and so on can draw on the past work without having to license the work or seek permisssion.

The problem as I've read elsewhere, in the US anyway, is that the constitutional provision concerning copyright only specifies that it is for a limited time, but never spells out an upper limit. So court challenges to the various copyright extension acts are thrown out, or not given standing since in the eyes of the court Congress is free to increase the duration of copyright as they see fit.

Most copyrights, especially for songs, are virtually worthless after a few years anyway, look at all the thousands of albums released every year that never earn back the investments of the record companies, their profits come from the big hits, and the catolgues they own of past hits. They may say they care about protecting the rights of artists and record labels, but it's only the cash cows they are really worried about.

The advent of the LP and the 45 single, the arrival of the Baby Boomer culture and rock and roll majorly increased the amount of money that could be made from popular music. Music licensing for films, TV, ads, etc. has become a huge moneymaker. Yet strangely as the attention span of audiences has shorted, the nostalgia streak has increased. From the article you linked, big name artists are now starting to regularly live long enough to see the end of these lengthened copyrights, in the UK at least. Maybe they should allow for a renewal process like there was when copyrights were shorter, but limited by the life of the creator or copyright holder or a maximum of one renewal with the 50 year rule, say for companies and corporate entities. But that's probably too generous in reality.

I agree 50 years is plenty, I'm disgusted the time in the US is even longer. If a company produces a profit, it can thrive, compete, and innovate; if not it will fail and be shuttered or its assets will be sold off. Why should artists, their heirs, and the companies expect to own an idea forever, as long as the length can be extended every few decades? Patents expire and unlicensed copies and generic versions of products follow, bringing about competition and lower prices for the benefit of the public, hopefully. Why is commerical culture any different?

Art and culture are not static, most of it will be forgotten over time, and some will endure, but it will pass into the public consciousness, and they will feel it belongs to them. And it should after a reasonable amount of time.

And I still say Sonny Bono got off eay dying quickly after his Copyright Extension Act of 1998 (wasn't it?). Grrrr.
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ulthar
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2006, 08:29:21 AM »

Boy this is a big issue in a lot of arenas right now.

The only thing I would add is that imo there needs to be a mechanism by which attribution is permanent.  I THOUGHT this was the copyright, but as you say, copyright is broken.

What I mean is that if I create something, I don't necessarily want 'monopoly' of it indefinitely, but I DO want 'credit' for having done it.  Part of this stems from my "programming" as a scientist.  We publish papers and those become the public record of our work.  If I publish a new way to calculate something or a new way to purify something, ANYONE can use it, but they cannot claim THEY 'invented' it.  To me, there is some merit in this.

To put it into context, I recently received an email from the President of some company in which he asked if I wanted to "license" his newly patented method of computing solubilities.  I responded with "how do you patent a way to calculate something."  Completely missing the point, he sent me a copy of the patent.  IANAL, but I don't think the patent would ever hold up, as my quick and dirty review of the patent revealed: (a) it is not an "invention" and (b) it's just a software implementation of a set of equations.  It's one of those things that is indicative of the complete ineptness of the current crop of patent reviewers when it comes to just about anything technology related.  In short, software patents are a STUPID application of the idea of patent.  Period.

When you put something into the Public Domain, you essentially give up the right to claim attribution.  That's fine if that's your choice (I've put some software on the public domain).  But to me, the real problem with this, under the CURRENT system at least, is that some (unscrupulous) people use public info to get patents.

Maybe my rant is more against patents than copyrights (I like the idea of copyleft, btw).  The ONLY reason I copyright any of my work (my book, my software) is to retain attribution and some sense of quality control - not sole right of use for some period of time.  Heck, I'm not even sure that copyright forces that level of monopoly - you CAN use copyrighted work with proper attribution.  I'll agree, though, it is an overly complicated mess.

FWIW, I *DO* write (and contribute to)  GPL'd software.  There needs to be a GPL version of 'license' for other types of work.  It gives copyright and covers distibution of protected material, but NOT use.  That's the important distinction between GPL and EULA's - one governs only distribution, the other attempts to govern use.  (There is the Creative Commons license, which I THINK offers what I would want in terms of retaining attribution vs. 'protection.')

Sorry for the random flow....I just woke up.
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Menard
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2006, 09:21:18 AM »

I've been awake for a while, but that still does not improve my train of thought. TeddyR

I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, Andrew; with reservations.

I write, but I seem to not recall a bunch of people helping me with my writing. True, in essence, creation is a culmination of experiences transformed into a uniform flow (ideally anyway). It is, however, that writer, musician, or other artist who brings that creation into being; without whom it would not exist (despite the 100 monkeys theory, it still would not exist). A work of creation is not something which was just sitting around waiting for someone to discover it, it came about specifically due to the person who created it (with minor exceptions).

*I know that you know this, but I am using my prelude to profer my soapbox speech. TeddyR

When someone creates content such as a novel, song, etc., they deserve the right to profit from their creations throughout their natural life, should they so choose. From my personal perspective, my writings are all I have should I choose to pass something on to my family or friends. Yes , there is a certain point in time when someone's creation should become integrated with the tome of human accomplishment with which everyone can benfit from without any conditions placed on them, but, this should not be within the lifespan of the artist where they lose claim to their own creations where someone else can simply take advantage of their work for their own gain.

Let's face it, publishers do well to take advantage of public domain works. They can profit from it without having to pay any royalties. Even if it is provided on the internet for free, the sites which make it available are able to profit from it by using it as a draw for traffic to make money off of their ads, or even charge a membership fee for someone to be able to download public domain content.

That being said, I personally would prefer to make my works public domain in the event of my death (and I seriously doubt I am going to last 50 more years). It is presently the only legacy I have to leave and the best way I know to make it a legacy is to give it away.

Yes, in certain ways the copyright laws may well be broken, but they are better than they were. When copyright laws were renewable, it was basically a way of favoring those who had the money to hold onto their rights (hence, why so many big studio movies are still under copyright while many independent films fell into public domain). Making the copyright laws uniform in their expiration leveled the playing field; although applying the uniform laws to everything under copyright at the time they were enforced gave an unprecedented freeride to those who had already held onto their copyrights for years.

There are certainly examples of copyrights taken too far. The Happy Birthday song, for instance, is still under copyright and any time that it is used in television, movies, etc., a royalty must be paid to the family which still holds the copyright. Though I believe that it should always remain that any idea put to paper, or website, should be copyrightable, no matter how stupid it is, the Happy Birthday song is a pure example of something which shows no sign of creative talent taking advantage of the copyright laws to bilk people for money.

Oh well. I just had to stand on the soapbox too, and b***h, gripe, and complain without really even going anywhere. I'll step down and let the next one up. TeddyR
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Andrew
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2006, 10:09:53 AM »

I failed to point out that the CNN article does not clarify some points.  British copyright law is a bit different from the United States.  Here, copyright was (for an artist - company copyright is different) the life of the artist plus fifty years.  The Sonny Bono Copyright Act extended that to seventy years.  Seventy years after the artist's death!  That is insane.  Most of my rant was about how messed up copyright is in the United States.

In England, it is fifty years after the date of creation.  They might still be alive, Menard, but we are talking about fifty years.  If someone creates a work when they are twenty, then they lose it at seventy.  Also, someday (I think), people might well live forever, unless an accident kills them.  Even in that case, it might not be "death."  If you have read "Judas Unchained" by Hamilton, he had an interesting idea about how that sort of thing.  Anyway, in that case, copyright based on the author's death is a bad idea.

Fifty years is plenty of time.  We should have it that way in the United States.  Your idea about a GPL for creative works is very promising and I think a great idea.
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Andrew Borntreger
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2006, 04:22:26 AM »

Quote
I failed to point out that the CNN article does not clarify some points.  British copyright law is a bit different from the United States.  Here, copyright was (for an artist - company copyright is different) the life of the artist plus fifty years.  The Sonny Bono Copyright Act extended that to seventy years.  Seventy years after the artist's death!  That is insane.  Most of my rant was about how messed up copyright is in the United States.

It's all because of that corpsicle Disney and the multibillion dollar empire built on his name. If Disney loses the copyrights to all of the things in their theme parks, movies, merchandise, etc. They would probably be ruined overnight, so they always make the big push to extend copyrights to death + x amount of years.

Culture is always enriched by having ideas eventually fall into the public domain. What would things be like if Bram Stoker or Lovecraft's family still had the copyrights to their respective ancestors work? Nobody would know who Lovecraft is, for one.

Free Mickey!!!
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raj
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2006, 02:05:17 PM »

A lot of the Disney stuff would still be covered by trademark.  Thus, all Walt Disney Co. needs to do every few years is reregister the trademark for Mickey Mouse and they are safe.  Basically, Disney loses the copyright to its mermaid movie et al.,  But consider that the earliest Disney movies were Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty -- two stories long in the public domain.

Copyrights and patents are very useful, but constantly extending them is just plain wrong, IMO.
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Jim H
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2006, 03:36:13 PM »

"Also, someday (I think), people might well live forever, unless an accident kills them. "

I certainly hope not.  That'd most likely be a disaster.

"What would things be like if Bram Stoker or Lovecraft's family still had the copyrights to their respective ancestors work? Nobody would know who Lovecraft is, for one."

Lovecraft let other people use his creations within his own lifetime, but I know what you mean.  He seemed quite proud of the whole Cthulhu mythos thing, justifiably sl.  The constant fan adaptations and references (in video games, books and film) have kept his memory alive far more than his books have. 

And BTW, I really haven't ever heard anyone who thinks that corporate infinity copyrights are justifiable.  I actually think somewhere between 30 and 50 years for corporate is about right.  I don't really have a problem with individuals having copyright for their lifetime though...  And that isn't about money, as far as I'm concerned.  It's more the principle of private ownership of what you have created.
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