What The Fans Say
Here is what music fans on the Steve Hoffman forum said in response to Ian Anderson's essay.

Our Founding Fathers in their wisdom provided for copyright protection for a limited time in the Constitution:

"Section 8. The Congress shall have power:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"

The original term of copyright was 28 years max. As you can see, the idea behind copyright law was not enrichment of the creator, but promotion of science and useful arts.

The corporations have subverted this idea and successfully pushed for copyright terms which continue to get longer and longer. And while you bemoan artists losing out on royalties from their creations, keep in mind that the copyrights are usually owned by the corporations, not the creators.

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Of all the points mentioned, the basic assumption is that these recordings still have a viable retail use after 50 years.

"This Was" was released in 1968 and would expire in 2018. How many copies sell now on a yearly basis and how many would be sold in 2018? Would it even be in print? What format, a download? I know, pennies make dimes, dimes make dollars and so on. But again, what's the retail value? What level outside of a track or two on a compilation would the coming generations have in not just Jethro Tull but in anything so old to those fresh ears? If big money was there for the record companies from material already at 50+ years, we'd see an endless string of quality reissues. We'd not have to shout to the deaf to get things on the market that are just 30 or 40 years old and forgotten.

Ian uses Cliff Richard's early material as an example of that which will soon fall into pd (public domain) status. Anyone at EMI issue a sales statement as to how many copies of a CD have been sold the past year or so based on including "Move It" or "Schoolboy Crush"? Anybody talk to Jasmine or Proper and see the millions they're raking in from their Vera Lynn or Cowboy Copas sets? Even the appeal those reissues have now won't be there in a few years.

Again, the idea is noble but, in my opinion, unrealistic.

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It's more mind-numbing to realize that people don't understand how essential the public domain is/should be!

The public domain is the freely-accessible intellectual property pool of modern society. Anybody can delve into it, create derivative works, et cetera. In the current intellectual property climate, though, it's become fashionable to denigrate the importance of the public domain, and several countries seem to be on the path towards extending copyright protection into perpetuity. The UK has the only *sensible* copyright protection length left around, as far as I know. (In the US, the Beatles won't be in the public domain for an ungodly length of time. Most of us will be dead by the time it becomes *legal* to do that "Paperback Believer" mashup.)

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Sorry, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for Ian. The continued expansion of Copyright lengths is ridiculous and does nothing to benefit the public at large. The limiting of Copyrights served three purposes, one relating to the establishment of the copyright and the other two relating to the loss of the copyright. The first was obviously to ensure that the creator retained both control of the work and the income generated by the work. The second was an admonishment for creators to not rest on their laurels and remain productive. The third was the acknowledgment that stories and songs will eventually transcend their original intent and become an integral part of the public consciousness. After giving the creator a sufficient amount of time to be compensated, anyone who cares can utilize, manipulate, rework, mondernize, etc, etc, etc.

But this continous extending of Copyright benefits very few individuals, but lots of corporations. God forbid that the Disney Company be told that if they want to keep raking in money on Mickey Mouse cartoons, it might be time to make some new ones instead of standing on ones made as far back as 1928. Or in RCA's (I guess now it's Sony) case, being told that the Elvis gravy train is coming into station, better break a new band or two.

And in Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull's specific case... well, I'm touched that Ian is concerned about his former bandmates. Maybe he could a) give them a cut out of his own pocket (I don't think he's doing too bad), b) let them back in the band, or c) tell them to get off their bum's and do something new that people care about and are willing to buy.

One final note, personally, I think Ian's got it backwards in any case. The recorded performance should have a longer copyright than the songwriting. That way the various members of Tull (in this case) are still compensated for their actual performance, and the song itself enters Public Domain to be covered, printed, used at will.

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I think there needs to be an international conference about Copyright. If this is the age of globalization, then copyright needs to be standardized. This patchwork thing is a mess.

Having said that, we cannot let the media giants write it, like they've written all these domestic extensions. In my opinion, they need to be stripped of some of their privileges!

I think copyright should go back to the original length, but I'd settle for 30 years. I think that the label should lose copyright during the 30 year period if the recording goes out of print for more than two years.

Today's copyright laws are having the exact opposite intent of the original law. The Big Four have become primarily re-issue labels because the recent legal revisions make that the most profitable thing for them. Youthful musicans are worse off as they can't get signed as labels increase their rehash activities. The public and artists are screwed when labels are allowed to bury so much content as they, indeed, do.

Ian Anderson is starting to sound like a label executive... *shake* I'm sorry if some of his mates haven't prospered. Handing over more copyright power to a scant few media titans isn't going to help these guys much! ...if any? It'll hurt everybody else!


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