I read an interesting article on the recent change in copyright laws in the US & UK. The term of copyright ownership in sound recordings & (presumably) performance royalties was extended from 50 yrs to 70, much to the relief of the record industry.
The original article, by Bob Stanley of the Guardian, can be found here
The article makes very powerful points we should be aware of.
Too many people talk nonsense on both sides of the debate (though this is true for any subject where there is strong opinion).
I don’t condone illegal downloading, but I can understand why some individuals find it difficult to understand the increasingly specious claims by record companies regarding pricing, especially as the UK is hit with some of the highest retail prices for music & media.
In the old days, the argument was there were costs associated with the manufacture,shipping, storage & stocking of a physical product. Today, people are paying the same price for a CD, when they essentially see it as a file on a server. Okay, servers don’t maintain themselves, but they ask the question, with the large-scale physical supply chain largely out of the equation, why am I still paying over the odds, especially for a format whose quality is less than that of the CD which it supposed to replace?
The other side, which people don’t appreciate is that these guys are running a business – they need to make money. Particularly in the case of the majors, they’re not doing it for love, they’re supplying a need.
The article appears to make the point that the new changes only makes a significant difference to the large companies with significant back catalogues & cash cows (The Beatles, Mickey Mouse, etc).
That said, apparently the ruling cannot be applied retrospectively, so any recordings that say, the Beatles made before the extension came into force won’t suddenly jump back into copyright.
On the one hand I appreciate these guys need to protect their business interests – that’s just good business. I for one have never had a problem with anyone making a few honest) quid.
What I do DO find hard to take is the lack of transparency in some of the arguments.
Many artists & great hits even up to the 80’s haven’t been financially beneficial to some artists, essentially screwed out of royalties due to sharp practices & dodgy contracts. Even those who haven’t had massive chart-toppers may still have benefited from the steady (additional) revenue stream from their recordings or back-catalogue.
Someone even worked out that approximately 80% of this cash goes straight to the record company (though I’m not sure if that’s before or after deductions).
Technology & the internet has shifted the terrain significantly, but it’s not exactly the sea-change some had expected. So until there’s a major, seismic shift, it’ll be business as usual.