Don’t Believe the Copyright Hype

There has been a concerted media schmoozing effort on behalf of the UK music industry recently to try to get the 50 year copyright issue onto the media’s agenda. And they seem to have succeeded. It’s just a shame that they have taken advantage of the media’s relative naivety of copyright issues to push a very one side story.

Yes, recorded copyright does expire after 50 years in the UK compared to 100 in the US. But music copyright (i.e. the rights of the publisher) persist until 70 years after the death of the compsoser. (And if you don’t believe me, check one of the music industry body’s own information on this topic).

All of these scare stories about Elvis and Buddy Holly suddenly coming out of copyright are just that: scare stories. If some body wants to release 50 year old record song they will still have to pay royalties to the composer. We’ll have to wait until something like the year 2050 before most of the old rock ‘n’ roll tracks are completely free of copyright.

The argument put forward by the industry is that the 50 year limit prevents the music industry the right t exploit its works. No. It prevents particular segments (typically the big majors) from exploiting the works.

The artists would still make money (whether through new releases or synchronisation revenues). And surely there is some justice there: the songwriters (who are often also the artisists) and their estates will still be making money for their work once the labels’ gravy train has dried up….

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