Thursday, 11 December 2008

Longer copyright for sound recordings

So the government has swallowed the line about extending copyright for sound recordings, and the minister has announced this morning that they are thinking about 70 years - at least not as long as the 95 years that the European Commission has fallen for.

No explanation is offered for this most flagrant u-turn, not yet anyway: and it seems as if one of the few sensible things in the Gowers review is going to be ignored. Well, that's politics.

As I have noted before, somewhere, if the extended rights come to the performers my objections to the extension of protection are diluted a bit - but there is no indication about how that is to be dealt with, and copyright in sound recordings usually belongs to the record company. Contracts might contain something to make the rights pass to the artist if the recording is deleted (but just as with print-on-demand, knowing when a recording is no longer available is now impossible) but that's not enough to rely on when extending these rights. Far better, I would have thought, to create some sort of moral right to allow performers to control their work whoever owns the copyrigt - which is largely already provided for in part II of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act as amended: can't we increase the period of protection for rights in performances instead?

Let us hope this is not the dead hand of copyright being placed on these copyright works on behalf of the record companies (who largely don't need it anyway), and that instead it's an enlivening hand that will keep performers performing and recording instead of having to earn their livings as bricklayers or petrol-pump attendants ...

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