The Register brings big news on music copyright today.
The European Commission has decided to extend the life of copyright for sound recordings from 50 years to 90.
But this won’t necessarily play into the hands of the major record companies – if they don’t make use of these rights, they will revert to artists.
This principal is at odds with recommendations made in the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property (2006), commissioned by the UK Government to take forward the debate on copyright into the the burgeoning world of E-commerce.
In their FAQ on this decision, the EC passed comment on findings from the Gowers Review, saying:
As it reasons against copyright extension based on economic analysis alone, the Commission feels that this cannot be the whole story. The Commission believes that Copyright represents a moral right of the performer to control the use of his work and earn a living from his performance, at least during his lifetime.
In other words, the Commission took scant regard toward artist’s moral rights in their assessment and recommendations.
The UK is the only major European country in which moral rights can be waived in writing. But what does this mean in practice?
In 1996 a report by Simon Newman for the Intellectual Property Institute (cited in Modern Intellectual Property Law, C Colston & K Middleton, Routledge-Cavendish) found that it was common practice across the music industry in the UK for artists to waive their moral rights to the integrity of their artwork – essentially smoothing the path for the industry to re-hash music at their own discretion.
But while its all well and good tut-tutting the nasty evil record companies twisting things to their own advantage, where do artists stand in the brave new world of social networks, and other web 2.0 means of getting their ‘user generated content’ out there?
Back in 2006, Billy Bragg reported on MTV Flux:
It seems that MTV Flux will be a TV channel comprising solely user-generated content, the commercial exploitation rights of which are owned by MTV. Just so no one should be in any confusion about what such an agreement might involve, MTV’s content submission conditions states: ‘In particular, you agree to waive all moral rights to the Material.’
Out of the frying pan, into the fire?
Keeping with the theme of copyright, here is an invaluable breakdown on where journalist stand on fair dealing in video, film and stills, posted by Andy Dickinson last week.