One of the greatest hinders to access and reuse of cultural material lies in the long terms of protection. The way in which copyright law works today is that it automatically protects (almost) all forms of cultural production (mainly) for a period of the life of the author plus 70 years. The effect of this is that nothing produced in my lifetime will be free in my lifetime.
This extension of the time of copyright is a major shift in the original idea of the bargain of copyright. The bargain was that the creator receives a limited monopoly and in return society will eventually receive the products of his or her work. Today the bargain is that the creator is protected and then his or her heirs take over the monopoly. This results in the situation where the children or grandchildren of the creator have the exclusive rights to the work.
My criticism is that the grandchildren of the creator should not have better rights to the work just because they have a genetic link to the author.
One area where the term of protection has remained shorter is the time span under which sound recordings are protected. But now the argument is why should sound recordings be discriminated against? Instead of arguing that the terms of protection are too long.
We all now have a chance to send a message and prevent this progress. Check out this attempt from the Open Rights Group to prevent this development. Read! And work for your rights.
The disastrous proposal to extend the term of copyright protection for sound recordings to 70 years is back on the European Council’s agenda.
There is a chance to stop this. You can help by writing to your MEPs now to tell them about your concerns, and ask them to make sure the Directive gets proper scrutiny from the European Parliament.
The economic evidence is stacked against the proposal. It will result in large parts of our cultural history being locked up. And it will benefit only a small number of artists and businesses. Leading IP professors, the UK government’s ‘Gowers Review’ of IP, and independent analysts commissioned by the EU have all said that extending the copyright term is unwise. You can read more about the evidence here.
You can help to make sure European decision makers look again at this damaging proposal by writing to your MEP now.