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20 July, 2004

That's not alright

Reuters report that copyright is imminently due to expire in the UK on seminal rock'n'roll recordings.
Elvis Presley's 'That's All Right' was arguably the first example of the genre, and coincidentally entered the UK singles chart at no.3 this week, but it will also enter the public domain on 1 January, 2005.

"I regard this week's anniversary as a wakeup call and a call to arms to step up a gear or two in our campaign to lobby for a similar term in the EU," said Peter Jamieson, executive chairman of British Phonograph Industry, in a recent speech.

Jamieson added, "The end of the sound recording copyright on the explosion of British popular music in the late '50s and '60s, not just the Beatles, but many other British artists, is only a short period away. If nothing is done they will suffer loss of income not just for their sales in the UK but their sales across the globe."

My first thought was "So what? Who cares if record companies lose the monopoly they've already had half a century to exploit?"
However, this also directly affects the artists who created these recordings. It's downright insulting for others to derive commercial benefit from someone's work without paying royalties, whilst the writer/performer is still alive and potentially reliant on that income.

Under US legislation, sound recordings are copyrighted for 95 years from the day of recording (in the USA). For recordings made after 1976, protection extends until the 70th anniversary of the artist's death. This makes a lot of sense, providing for the artist plus his/her immediate descendants; until reading this article, I'd thought that was the internationally-agreed situation.

Now, if there was some mechanism whereby a record company lost exclusive rights to a recording after 50 years but subsequent users still had to pay royalties to the artist, I'd have no complaints.

Found via Lost Pilgrim

NP: A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms. I've listened to this 7-8 times over a couple of months, and am no more impressed than the first time. I'd recommend 'The Thirteenth Step', but not this one.

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