In a vote which should shock no one, the European Parliament voted to increase copyright on musical works from publication/performance date + 50 years to publication/performance date + 70 years. Keep in mind that this new extension also gives producers extended income as well.
However, the legislation also makes a provision for ‘use it or lose it’, from the article:
"Use it or lose it" clause
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.
The producer has one year to make the recording available to the public, failing this his rights will expire.
Several other blogger in the blogosphere have picked up on this legislation also and have voiced their dissatisfaction. There has been some stated justification reported on several websites, like this article here.
I’ve previously criticised this legislation (and the ongoing extension of copyright terms) for both a) depriving the public domain of works of popular culture and b) making a mockery of the whole point of copyrighting.
In what world do any workers/entertainers/professionals expect to make income from their their work(s) for 70 years after they were performed or produced? I’d love for companies to pay me for work I’d had contributed to ten years ago, but it just doesn’t work that way.
So why should we deprive the public domain to feed money to artists in retirement?
Is it greed on the part of the producers and the music industry machine? I believe it is. Why should musicians not be expected to save their income like the rest of us and plan for retirement? I think it’s a bit rich that they (and their producers) should expect income when they are in their 70s or beyond.
Don’t you think that the songs the Beatles wrote have made the ‘fab four’ (or their estates) enough money by now, that we could allow their brilliant albums to transfer into the public domain?
No, this legislation has very little to do with supporting “struggling” artists in retirement (again, why anyone should expect income from work performed over 50 years ago is a bit of a joke) and much more to do with sustaining the rights of producers and copyright holders to keep on making money for longer periods of time. I doubt we’ll even see the works of the Beatles or their peers in the public domain in my lifetime.