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Copyright Time Bomb Set To Go Off

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the insult-to-injury dept.

Music 402

In September we discussed one isolated instance of the heirs of rights-holders filing for copyright termination. Now Wired discusses the general case — many copyrights from 1978 and before could come up for grabs in a few years. Some are already in play. "At a time when record labels and, to a lesser extent, music publishers, find themselves in the midst of an unprecedented contraction, the last thing they need is to start losing valuable copyrights to '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s music, much of which still sells as well or better than more recently released fare. Nonetheless, the wheels are already in motion. ... The Eagles plan to file grant termination notices by the end of the year.... 'It's going to happen,' said [an industry lawyer]. 'Just think of what the Eagles are doing when they get back their whole catalog. They don't need a record company now... You'll be able to go to Eagles.com (currently under construction) and get all their songs. They're going to do it; it's coming up.' ...If the labels' best strategy to avoid losing copyright grants or renegotiating them at an extreme disadvantage is the same one they're suing other companies for using, they're in for quite a bumpy — or, rather, an even bumpier — ride."

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402 comments

First (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114310)

First play

Its time to think about the future, not the past (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114316)

Musicians should make music because they work for the people. I think it all comes down to the corrosive influence of Ronald Reagan and his neoliberal sympathies on the couscousness of our generation. Why can't I eat an orange in peace? Because the IRS bought it with their ray guns!

Re:Its time to think about the future, not the pas (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114382)

Musicians should make music because they work for the people. I think it all comes down to the corrosive influence of Ronald Reagan and his neoliberal sympathies on the couscousness of our generation. Why can't I eat an orange in peace? Because the IRS bought it with their ray guns!

I see I was not the only person chosen to bring back balance. What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Re:Its time to think about the future, not the pas (0, Offtopic)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114482)

Musicians should make music because they work for the people. I think it all comes down to the corrosive influence of Ronald Reagan and his neoliberal sympathies on the couscousness of our generation. Why can't I eat an orange in peace? Because the IRS bought it with their ray guns!

You haven't visited the Ray Gun Pyramid.

Or for that matter the great Neo Library.

Neo Nacho.

Re:Its time to think about the future, not the pas (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114626)

Musicians work for the people??? What, are they civil servants now?

Re:Its time to think about the future, not the pas (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114916)

Musician work for the people who enjoy music. They shouldn't be whoring themselves to corporate America, which only rapes the musicians AND the music lovers.

Nothing to see here, move on (5, Insightful)

lordmetroid (708723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114340)

I do not see how this is bad, the publishers obviously hasn't been innovating and now fear their own demise by their own doing. As seen by the trends of income, artists themselves are the winners and publishers has been made obsolete.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114416)

Exactly. The only thing is would it be foreseeable to see two music publishers in the same country selling the same album, with the artist getting a fixed base amount? I know with books it is possible to see classic literature published by multiple companies, in the same country and in the same shop, though this is not something I have yet experienced when it comes with recorded music - well, at least with contemporary music. With classical music you will see music by the same composer published by different companies, but the performing orchestra is not usually the same.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (2, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114554)

That is because the orchestral recording is generally subject to copyright, except possibly for a few very ancient gramophone recordings.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (1, Interesting)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114512)

Absolutely not at all bad. But interesting nevertheless, so something to see here indeed.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114570)

This is the next best thing to the work going to the public domain. All us "pirates" that refuse to pay for music that goes to fund lawsuits against music lovers could theoretically then go and buy music from the Eagles without having to line the pocket books of a RIAA affiliated label.

I don't personally have a problem with them continuing to have copyright protection, but really the moment the last of them is dead, it should go to the public pretty soon after.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (5, Insightful)

perlchild (582235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114600)

I don't see how this is bad either. As for publishers... If they really feared this, they could always have offered longer contracts to artists... a 55 year contract? YUP!

Oh wait you mean they wouldn't have made so much money off the artists? What? You mean giving more money to artists back in the napster days was only ok... if it wasn't your money?

Hopefully, in ten years, the RIAA member companies will exit the music business, or be bankrupt. If you work for them, please find other work now. I'm so against them getting a bailout then.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (4, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114622)

Sadly the term publisher masks a host of leeches that feed upon the artists and the public. In essence if you get a contract you can subcontract everything and simply sit back and get a free lunch.
                      Going back in time a bit the publishers had to hire a scribe as an employee to prepare the original and then print it and issue it themselves. Those days are long gone. Today even the big name artists often gain nothing at all from record production but make their entire living from in person appearances and the sale of T shirts and other gimmicks.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (3, Interesting)

pigphish (1070214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114714)

This is bad because the Eagles may be even more greedy than the record companies. They dont mind bilking their fans when they go on tour and probably wouldn't mind when selling their wares.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114984)

The difference is that if the Eagles decide to be greedy about their intellectual property, it puts me in the position of having to reconsider my desire to own Eagles music. If Sony entertainment decides to be greedy about "their" intellectual property, it puts me in the position of having to reconsider my desire to own the music of several dozen artists.

If the Eagles want to dig their own grave, that's their prerogative.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (4, Interesting)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114722)

Actually, there's something very interesting to see here. This is may be the first time that early termination of copyrights has been viewed as a viable option for artists, and for consumers. If artists are prepared to agree to terminate their copyrights early, we can make our choices based on how long artists will hold their creations. We can choose how long we have to wait before redistributing. Before, it was an option between no time at all, or some undetermined amount of time, at least 75 years post creation.

If we buy only works with reasonable term lengths, then long copyright terms will die.

Re:Nothing to see here, move on (5, Insightful)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114868)

If we buy only works with reasonable term lengths, then long copyright terms will die.

I know, right! I mean, I just heard some teenage girls talking about how they wanted to buy this new Taylor Swift album, but weren't sure of her stance on intellectual property rights and copyright term retention so they didn't feel comfortable buying it as it would send the wrong message to the recording industry and OMG Billy just bought it, I wonder if I buy it he'll think I'm cool!

Good (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114344)

Pardon the pun, but the record companies need to face the music.

Re:Good (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114426)

Indeed. The time has come for the industry to march to the beat of a different drummer.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114628)

Heh, and while we're at it, isn't it ironic that those who want to protect their "intellectual property" are just too... un-intellectual to think of new ways to make money?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114748)

Oops, should have put "their" in quotes as well.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114676)

Pardon the pun, but the record companies need to face the music.

Or they could look to the future and treat new/current artists so well that in 35 years, those artists don't want (like it's not in their best interest) to revoke the copyright ownership from the labels.

I get a big kick out of watching record execs greedily line their own pockets at the expense of destroying music all while doing absolutely nothing. It's no secret and it's not a recent development. Compare the music industry to something more efficient like the microchip industry. Ignore the market differences for a second and think about what happens in the silicon valley or Taiwan or South Korea when someone hits on something big. What happens? Yes, people get paid and they end up with nicer stuff but a lot of that money gets fed back into the system in R&D or an expansion of workers. It pays to expand. Now look at the music industry. A label signs a huge act, the record goes multi-platinum. The artists get some amount but there are these large pools where money comes to rest and stops working for everyone. These are the record executives and RIAA at large. They're different than your average CEO because they are probably making more and they don't even have several thousand people working under them that they have to appease. They just have bands.

So where is the equivalent of R&D or expansion of workers in the music industry? Why is it that bands don't get paid by a record company until they sign a label? Why aren't funds re-invested back into the system that is such a cash cow for these executives? If these executives treated their artists better and really really devoted a lot of time and money towards developing the bands and offering non-contractual small funds to fledgling bands instead of putting all that money in their pocket, then I think the music industry would be in a much much better state right now. Right now, it sucks to be an artist. It's just not a financial option unless you're Bob Dylan or Shakira.

Stop screwing the artists and the fans and you won't find yourself in a shady situation relying on lawyers to find a loophole around legal matters.

Interesting times (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114350)

A lot of older artists have realised in this day and age how much the record companies were fleecing them back in the day. Quite a lot of young artists now, realise the companies are the Devil incarnate and try their best to do their own distribution, not easy on an international stage without limited funds, but at least they can have a chance of a career in music without being bent over by a label and dumped after one poorly selling album.

I tend to spend more on music when I know I can buy direct from metal bands, direct from their sites, to the point I am actually emailling the band members for details and merchandise. I feeling I am adding something positive to the music scene as a whole. I can't say I like the Eagles much, another super-rich corp band to my mind, but it's their work and good luck to them!

Will there be a kaboom? (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114362)

There's supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom, you know.

On another note, isn't this trading 1 stupidity for another? I mean, I like Hotel California and all, but the copyright should have expired by now. Period.

Re:Will there be a kaboom? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114516)

"I like Hotel California and all, but the copyright should have expired by now. Period."

Why? Just because you believe so?

Then write a hit song and see how easy it is to keep doing so. See how you like working in a field that pretty much is dependant on the whims of taste and then be told, hey, entertainment has moved to something else now so we don't need you anymore...but we do like your other song and now we want it for free.

I'm sorry, but as a musician and song writer, I can't agree that it is your decision to make for me. Hotel California? Pop drivel (and better pop drivel than I ever wrote)...society will not be impacted negatively if art and/or craft is allowed to be restricted. Why? Because if it is as easy to create as the copyright haters believe, then make your own Hotel California type of music...after all, it takes absolutely no resources other than picking up a guitar from what I understand from the copyright deniers.

You have no right to demand someone elses work be released in any way. Period. Wow. That Period really makes me feel powerful, and a bit douchy and self-rightous,...yeah to R2.0 for showing me how to use it.

Now on to my own belief about my own works...I write music for other people. If they like it, I give it to them for money and they are able to do WHATEVER they want with it. It is no longer mine. I cannot make any moral statements about it. BUT anything I write that is for myself...I could care less about the copyright. As an artist? It makes no nevermind to me what someone does with it so long as the music is heard. Probably why I got out of the industry (err...occasionally I miss a mortgage payment because of my job in academia and have to whore myself to the industry), but I personally don't care. A lot of artists don't. A lot of artists will tell you that they could care less if you put their music out there on the interwebs and the naptorrents and all that.

I encourage my friends to hold on to their master recording rights, or even to keep multiple versions where they are very similar, but different enough that the labels can't say shit (ok, in one friends area, they TRIED to claim rights, but I helped document the recording process, and he ended up able to prove that his contract only covered the deliverables, not the products that came before...he owns all non-mechanical copyrights, therefore, the label could only complain about the fact he might have used some of the same multitracks in the process...but documentation proved otherwise).

I personally think it is moronic for an artist to hold on to their works forever, but it is a personal decision and if they wanted to vault their works and say Hey! What I Put Out And Sold Is ALL That Will Ever Be Released...that is their right to vault it. Not yours. Regardless of how well you think it was crafted. Again, personally, I find it wrong. But an artist should have the moral right to decide how THEIR work is released. Just because you possess a copy does not make it any more your decision to do otherwise.

Re:Will there be a kaboom? (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114910)

Way to miss the point. EVERYTHING in your post is based on the idea that "copyright" is something innate or profound, existing outside of a legal structure. It is not. Copyright exists ONLY within a legal structure that decrees it so. The point of copyright is to encourage the creative arts by granting the creator a monopoly for a limited time, after that point others may use that art. Without that, and artist HAS NO RIGHTS to the product of their work. If you write and perform a song, what stops another musician from performing the same song the next night? Nothing except a law. Copyright is a mercantilist replacement for aristocratic patronage - it allows artists to make money within a capitalist system. But that's ALL it is.

I am not in favor of abolishing copyright - I believe, in the main, it does what it is intended to do. But the current terms of copyright are so outrageous as to encourage this bizarre idea of "ownership" of something that DOESN'T EXIST. I'm sure the Eagles worked their asses off thirty years ago to create that song, and I believe they should have been compensated for it. Then. and for some period of time thereafter. But thirty years later? I believe it is bad public policy, which is the only place that this "right" exists.

Someone please explain (0)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114364)

I thought when the copyrights expire the works pass on to the public domain and everyone has full permission to do anything they want with it. For example there is some ruckus in the evolution-creationism skirmishes because Darwin's The origin of the species is now in the public domain and some character known as the Banana Boy is planning to distribute "annotated" copies of that book in college campuses ( (plural)alumnus= alumni, (plural)campus= campi? no?). So why/how would the heirs get the copyright for themselves?

Re:Someone please explain (5, Informative)

Scutter (18425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114378)

The copyrights aren't expiring. There's a provision in the Copyright Act of 1978 that allows the original artist (or their heirs) to terminate a copyright they sold and take it back after 35 years. Seriously, it's in TFA.

Re:Someone please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114640)

The Dude abides.

Re:Someone please explain (1)

spnz (1003292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114738)

Help me here someone: So if an artist exercises the right to own their music again, who gets the revenues for physical sales of material already on shelves? Surely using the RIAA logic, it's the music and not the media that is governed by copyright? Maybe the volume is too low to consider, but there's a lot of back catalogue stuff out there.

Re:Someone please explain (2, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114880)

The original publisher was already paid for that music by the retailer. What's on the shelf and gets sold is revenue for the retail store at that point.

Remember the crux of copyright - copyright gives you the legal authority to make copies (or grant that ability to someone else under certain terms). Any CD's produced PRIOR to the licensing agreement being terminted would still be perfectly sellable works because it was the production of the disc and not the sale that is being governed. However, after the agreement ended the publisher would then have to cease production of new discs.

The only thing that worries me though is when it comes to a single artist (or band), I wonder how difficult it is for them to get their music on multiple services. I mean, sure anybody with sense will get their stuff on iTunes, but though it now lacks DRM and the tracks are usable in Linux, the actual store doesn't work on anything but Mac and Windows. If you want to use other platforms you're stuck with Amazon or other MP3 stores. I wonder how aggressive your independent artists will be getting their digital wares into stores other than the #1?

I expect some type of service SEMI related to current publishers to crop up eventually that specializes in getting music submitted to multiple digital venues for sale. Unlike the insane agreements of old though, given the power that the author has now I'd expect such services to be more of a 1-time fee for the job rather than usurping their copyrights entirely.

Re:Someone please explain (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114932)

Help me here someone: So if an artist exercises the right to own their music again, who gets the revenues for physical sales of material already on shelves? Surely using the RIAA logic, it's the music and not the media that is governed by copyright?

Maybe the volume is too low to consider, but there's a lot of back catalogue stuff out there.

Watch for quick and non-apologetic hypocritical statements from the industry. And as another poster commented, keep an eye out for stealth changes in copyright law.

This story makes me want to jump and shout Hallelujah that copyright law is working for the right people for once. But knowing how far in control the corporates are of the government (especially the legislature) right now tempers my glee.

Re:Someone please explain (4, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114386)

It's not expiration of copyright, it's a provision in copyright law that allows creators who have assigned their work to a publisher (or label, etc.) to take it back after a set period of time. It was designed to give creators some leverage against publishers - i.e., they wouldn't have to assign their work forever just to get it published. From the article:

The Copyright Act includes two sets of rules for how this works. If an artist or author sold a copyright before 1978 (Section 304), they or their heirs can take it back 56 years later. If the artist or author sold the copyright during or after 1978 (Section 203), they can terminate that grant after 35 years. Assuming all the proper paperwork gets done in time, record labels could lose sound recording copyrights they bought in 1978 starting in 2013, 1979 in 2014, and so on. For 1953-and-earlier music, grants can already be terminated.

Re:Someone please explain (5, Insightful)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114602)

It's not a matter of leverage. By changing the copyright act, they changed deals which were already closed.

If it was 1970, and I gave you my work for 35 years before it naturally fell into public domain, then in the 1990s, the law changes it to 75, shouldn't *I* have some say about it?

Re:Someone please explain (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114778)

If it was 1970, and I gave you my work for 35 years before it naturally fell into public domain, then in the 1990s, the law changes it to 75, shouldn't *I* have some say about it?

No. You sold the copyright. Period.

If you want control over your copyright in the future, then don't sell it.

Re:Someone please explain (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114658)

>>>cord labels could lose sound recording copyrights they bought in 1978 starting in 2013, 1979 in 2014

I predict a sudden explosion of disco on the oldies radio stations. They won't be able to play that music for free (since it belongs to the artists), but I bet it will be a lot cheaper than what the megacorps are asking.

On the other hand, maybe Obama will come to the record companies rescue, and alter the law in some fast-track legislation.

Re:Someone please explain (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114730)

I predict a sudden explosion of disco on the oldies radio stations. They won't be able to play that music for free (since it belongs to the artists), but I bet it will be a lot cheaper than what the megacorps are asking.

It won't be cheaper because the stations will have to deal with thousands of individual artists instead of a handful of record companies. The administrative overhead will make it no longer worth the effort.

I'm sure they'll license the songs they absolutely can't do without (e.g. Hotel California will still be on the radio), but they won't bother with the rest.

On the other hand, maybe Obama will come to the record companies rescue, and alter the law in some fast-track legislation.

I'm no American, but isn't it Congress that makes laws, not the President?

Re:Someone please explain (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114822)

Afaict radio stations nearly always pay for the right to air music through thier countries compulsary licensing body anyway so I doubt this will have any impact on them either way.

Re:Someone please explain (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114392)

I thought when the copyrights expire the works pass on to the public domain and everyone has full permission to do anything they want with it.

Yes, that's true.

So why/how would the heirs get the copyright for themselves?

Because the copyrights are not expiring. I'd explain, but you could just RTFA [wired.com] , which would explain it all. I know this is slashdot, but nobody is here to copy and paste the article for you. Don't be such a lazy ass.

Re:Someone please explain (2, Informative)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114430)

Basically the provision was put into the legislation to give the Congresspeople political cover when they extended copyright terms again. This way they pretend to care about the artists (who don't give them as much money as the labels and producers), and because they do that the artists get something out of it. There has already been some litigation on the issue, particularly when the original copyright holder died and there are multiple family members involved in trying to get the revoked rights, IIRC. From the publisher/producer side, they don't think about it as political cover because all that matters to them is that they'll lose the rights unless they renegotiate--and if the artist was successful, the copyright holder is often now in a position to get a much better deal.

Re:Someone please explain (2, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114550)

some character known as the Banana Boy is planning to distribute "annotated" copies of that book in college campuses

Maybe some people don't believe in evolution because it hasn't happened to them yet? If I seem some one who looks like a neanderthal tossing around poop and copies of a book they dont' understand, I'll steer clear of them. (I would also keep away from someone with just the poop.)

Re:Someone please explain (3, Informative)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114580)

If you are speaking Latin, the plural of campus is campi. If you are speaking English, it's campuses.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/campus [wiktionary.org]
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Plural_of_campus [answers.com]
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/campi [wiktionary.org]
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-151248.html [straightdope.com]
http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-cobuild/campus [reverso.net]

Both are valid. Campuses is standard, campi is not.

*shrugs*

Re:Someone please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114874)

actually its not "campi", but "campus", pronounced "cam-POOS".

the return of 80s rap? (1)

notgm (1069012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114366)

will we see some more innovative sampling, legal enough to go mainstream again?

Re:the return of 80s rap? (1)

Lockblade (1367083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114408)

Nope. The copyright aren't expiring, the original owners just get to take them back if they want to.

Re:the return of 80s rap? (4, Funny)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114568)

The term "innovative sampling" has always amazed me. I mean, it's like "military intelligence", "jumbo shrimp", and "journalistic ethics" - the words don't go together, man.

Re:the return of 80s rap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114716)

The term "innovative sampling" has always amazed me [...] the words don't go together, man.

Sure they do, unfortunately most samples used in songs are straight lifts. However, you can use samples creatively just as you can use any instrument creatively.

Take something like the Doctor Who theme as originally constructed by Delia Derbyshire. The original recording was music concrete, made using open reel 2-track tape machines. The bass line was (I believe) a recording of a metal lamp shade being hit which was then pitched and edited (via tape splicing) into a loop. There are no synthesisers present on the original '63 version, it's all tape manipulation of recorded sounds.

That recording was (and remains) an example of "innovative sampling" and I don't see how anybody could dispute it.

Re:the return of 80s rap? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114740)

Here's an example of innovative sampling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQa60u1zPdE [youtube.com] In my opinion this rap song is better than the original song. Alternatively you could think of the two songs complementing each other (one is the woman complaining; the other is the man apologizing).

original
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQa60u1zPdE [youtube.com]

Other favorite sampling songs:
Will Smith - Wild Wild West http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eeyhtlJp5A [youtube.com]
Naughty by Nature - O.P.P. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJgFU3U4X_Y [youtube.com]
Rihanna - SOS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eeyhtlJp5A [youtube.com]

Re:the return of 80s rap? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114872)

It's always more difficult to create original works than to mash together the works of those more talented than you, and call it an original creation. It's like someone coming up with an idea, getting it produced in China, and then watching the substandard copies roll out of shanzhai factories. You get all the criticism, and they get all the credit for being new and fresh (not to mention the profits). A better man might have said "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants." An entertainer in 2009 might have said "Congratulations Rihanna on your Grammy award win. You have done our country [of](sic) Barbados proud!"

Awesome (5, Interesting)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114396)

I did not know about the grant expiration clause written into the 1976 Copyright Act (RTFA to learn more). It's good to know that Congress defined copyrights to actually belong to the artists and they can get them back from the recording companies after 35 years. This sort of restores my confidence in US copyright law. Seriously.

Of course I think 35 years is too long but that's just a matter of degree. I wonder if the same applies to book publishing contracts.

Re:Awesome (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114444)

I wonder if the same applies to book publishing contracts.

From the article (which no one bothered to read):

This isn’t just about music. “It’s every type of copyright,” said Bernstein. “It doesn’t distinguish between the types of copyright."

So it would appear indeed that this would be the same for books, movies, music, etc. Maybe even software? I mean, why not? It'd be impossible to track down the original developers and offer them equal rights to the code but this will have to be dealt soon. And hopefully not in the way they have traditionally dealt with software and copyright.

Re:Awesome (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114484)

I would assume for software, movies, etc. it would be different as you are being paid hourly to work for the company. Although if you had written software and turned the distribution rights over to microsoft, then it would be affected by this.

Work for Hire (4, Informative)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114690)

What you are describing is called "work made for hire" and in those cases the employer is considered the author. So for example, developers working for a software company could not come back 35 years later and cause trouble because it would be the software company that is legally considered the author and not the developer.

See 17 USC 101 (definition of what qualifies as "work made for hire") and 17 USC 201(b) (about how "work made for hire" relates to authorship).

Re:Awesome (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114584)

It is very rare for software copyrights to be assigned to a publishing house. There are companies that will handle the marketing and distribution of software for other people, but they don't generally take ownership of the copyright. They buy additional copies from the author as orders come in. Authors can, and quite often do, sell their software through different distributors in this way at the same time.

Re:Awesome (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114688)

IANAL but.....

There's a sentence in the article, if I recall correctly, that suggests work for hire isn't covered by this.

So Disney (indeed all the movie studios) is probably fine; all their properties, except maybe the very oldest that Walt did himself, is unquestionalbly work for hire. And Walt's family is unlikely to ask for the copyright to Steamboat Willie back.

In most cases, software development would also be work for hire. If a piece of software was independently developed then copyright assigned to a software publisher, then yes, that software probably falls under this. But given the time spans, we'd be talking about things that are for the most part either completely worthless and obsolete or already available for free download.

Re:Awesome (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114758)

So it would appear indeed that this would be the same for books, movies, music, etc.

I guess I should have been more clear: what I meant to say was I wonder whether book publishers actually use copyright assignment or whether it's all "work for hire" these days. (I did RTFA but it doesn't elaborate on the practical details of how publishing contracts are interpreted in the light of copyright law, for media other than audio).

Re:Awesome (1)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114828)

It's an intriguing idea, but I can't help but wonder: which pieces of 1970s-era software are you hoping to have access to? When I see code from the 70s my only thought is to get as far away from it as possible.

Re:Awesome (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114452)

What was Written can be Unwritten. Watch for a rider being slipped through on the Protecting Freedom, Goodness and Innocent Children Act 2010. Congress has gotten better at this since the last time they got caught boning creatives over Work For Hire.

Re:Awesome (4, Funny)

db32 (862117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114606)

No, they will find something they can name like the whole USA PATRIOT crap. For example, the US Internet Safety & Freedom Under Copyright Key Enhancement Doctrine...

Re:Awesome (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114998)

No, they will find something they can name like the whole USA PATRIOT crap

I doubt it. The Democrats can't seem of figure this kind of thing out and come up with lame names for otherwise good ideas, like SCHIP.

I'm sure the new health care law will end up something like Basic Open Health Issue Care for America - BOHICA.

Re:Awesome (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114732)

I don't think it's going to be that easy though.

It's very much in the interests of the artists to have this, including quite a few very well known ones who can easily get a lot of publicity. Also, the whole "but, but, the artists!" thing the record companies like so much isn't really going to fly with the artists being for this.

Re:Awesome (2, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114734)

Talking about work for hire...
FTFA:

but numerous sources say they [The RIAA] are prepared to take the issue to court. One potential strategy being considered: to claim that sound recordings aren't subject to termination because they were created as "works for hire," making the record companies the legal authors.

Howdy shit. Does any artist really wants this?
This just shows how evil record companies are.

Re:Awesome (3, Funny)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114498)

Don't worry, we'll amend the secret ACTA treaty or a new DMCA law to fix this loophole. We'll probably put it as a rider to a 'save the children' act or 'don't kill puppies' law. After all, you're not a stone-cold puppy-killing, child-raping pervert are you?

Don't worry writing about it to me, I can't read it, I'll be at a Palm Island resort courtesy of Sony/BMG. I'm taking a private jet provided to me by some family with the last name Warner, you know so I can catch up on verifying the funds I got to run for office next year. I really don't know where all those bribes^H^H^H^H^H^H^H donations keep coming from.

Sincerely,

Your state representative.

Oh dear (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114434)

This is a disaster! Record labels will have to find some way of making people pay them for newer content!

Now, do you reckon they'll make the newer content worth hearing, or do you reckon they'll bribe lawmakers to force us to pay for it whether we listen to it or not (blank media taxation and the like)?

Immortality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114458)

Maybe these aging musicians are realizing that immortality (spreading ones memes as widely as possible) is more important than personal wealth in the greater scheme of things.

Tables turned (5, Interesting)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114486)

Cool stuff. Artists will be giving publishers the same phrase publishers have been giving consumers: "You don't own the music you bought from us - you're just licensed to it"

What I find particularly interesting about this... (3, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114494)

There are numerous examples of young musicians signing very one-sided contracts and not fully grasping the implications until it's far too late.

A few of these have since gone on to become successful and have become rather more careful in their dealings with record companies. Prince immediately springs to mind, as does Courtney Love.

I cannot help but wonder - does this mean there's an entire generation of musicians who released successful work and got screwed by the record company who are now going back to their label and saying "Er... excuse me... I'd like my copyrights back, please." Could be interesting....

Re:What I find particularly interesting about this (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114948)

When making a statement (young musicians), it is usually proper to list some examples... oh wait, you didn't say TALENTED YOUNG MUSICIANS, whew...

Obligatory (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114502)

(Babu and a friend are sitting at a table in an outdoor cafe in Pakistan).

Babu: So his friend got the mail but she did not give it to him. And then he came to visit me. Said the lawyer was called to help, he said the wheels were
in motion, but there was no motion. There was nothing. And so they sent me back here.

Babu's Friend: This is a terrible story, Babu. What are you going to do?

Babu: I'm going to save up every rupee. Someday, I will get back to America, and when I do I will exact vengeance on this man. I cannot forget him. He haunts me. He is a very bad man. He is a very very bad man.

Effect on games, etc.? (3, Interesting)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114506)

How with this affect any games, movies, etc. that currently have authorization to use the music? Could this be used to require guitar hero, etc. to stop distribution of current versions because the original creator of the music doesn't want it in the game?

Re:Effect on games, etc.? (4, Informative)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114678)

How with this affect any games, movies, etc. that currently have authorization to use the music? Could this be used to require guitar hero, etc. to stop distribution of current versions because the original creator of the music doesn't want it in the game?

It won't. A licensed use of a song can't be retroactively unlicensed just because the copyright changed hands. Once it's licensed, it's licensed.

However, if the game companies want to use some of the same songs in future versions of the game, they may find themselves negotiating with different people this time, who may have different terms, or may even decide against licensing altogether.

Re:Effect on games, etc.? (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114706)

It's wouldn't affect current legitimate licensees. The licensees aren't copyright holders, they're licensees. Once you've been given license to use a copyrighted work, transfer of the copyright doesn't modify or invalidate your license.

This is why record companies don't transfer copyrights to shell corporations that require you to pay a charge on your existing CD collection. You know that if the record companies could do that, they would have started a long time ago.

Actually, the threat to MPAA-members is not that they are losing control of the works, but rather the parties gaining control of the works will likely disrupt the MPAA-member's business models even further by indulging in alternative distribution methods / channels, being more generous on licensing, or just being innovative on how they use / profit from the works. The can afford to lose the Eagles, they can't afford for the Eagles to show the world that they can do better than the label and -- *gasp* -- come up with something that resonates with the customers or other artists. That's what they fear.

Re:Effect on games, etc.? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114854)

they can't afford for the Eagles to show the world that they can do better than the label and -- *gasp* -- come up with something that resonates with the customers or other artists.

Well, aside from all the fluffy "show the world their artistic resonators" or whatever, what they can't afford is to show future musicians that the Eagles are better off without the label, and by implication they would be better off without the label.

We may be facing a future where the major record companies only produce garbage from talentless musicians (err, this already happened years ago?).

Rather than the label being the gatekeeper of good music, they will become/have become the strong indicator that the music is bad? Kind of like anything you see on free network TV?

Re:Effect on games, etc.? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114772)

How with this affect any games, movies, etc. that currently have authorization to use the music? Could this be used to require guitar hero, etc. to stop distribution of current versions because the original creator of the music doesn't want it in the game?

For educational purposes, I found two apparently conflicting short sentences, a very tiny part of a very long public web page written by an attorney on this topic, and my criticism is I do not see how it explained this conflict. My guess, is this is one of those situations where it appears pretty vague in American English, but using precise legal definitions its crystal clear?

"Despite termination, the right to continue to exploit previously-prepared derivative works (e.g., a motion picture based on a book) may be immune, or safe from termination."

"That is, after transfer of rights in the underlying work is terminated, the owner of the derivative work (e.g., motion picture version of a novel) has no right to continue exploiting the work in any manner."

http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/copyterm.html [copylaw.com]

Re:Effect on games, etc.? (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114838)

In response to multiple posts saying you can't unlicense the music, etc. Here is another question:

If it is licensed under terms where a certain percentage of sales goes to the record company in exchange for the song, or a certain percent of movie sales goes to the publisher of the book...

Will the record company/publisher/whatever still be getting paid even though they no longer hold the rights to the work, or will whoever it is licensed to be required to pay the original author/artist?

Re:Effect on games, etc.? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114882)

Will the record company/publisher/whatever still be getting paid even though they no longer hold the rights to the work, or will whoever it is licensed to be required to pay the original author/artist?

Oh that's easy, all the money will go to the lawyers, and/or bribes to congress to get the law changed.

hear is a novel idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114552)

perhaps they should start producing good music again rather then autotune every pretty face.

Making the summary not completely backwards (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114558)

At a time when the public hasn't gotten anything added to the public domain since the 1920's, the first thing they need is for valuable copyrights from the 50's, 60's, and 70's, much of which is still loved by music fans of all ages. Thankfully, the wheels are already in motion. ... The Eagles plan to file grant termination notices by the end of the year.... 'It's going to happen,' said [an industry lawyer]. 'Just think of what the Eagles are doing when they get back their whole catalog. They don't need a record company now... You'll be able to go to Eagles.com (currently under construction) and get all their songs. They're going to do it; it's coming up.' ...If the musicians' best strategy to make use copyright grants or renegotiating them at an extreme advantage, they're in for a quite lucrative ride.

Seriously, the summary would suggest that this is bad news. It's in fact good news for everyone but record companies.

Re:Making the summary not completely backwards (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114780)

The summary was just copied-and-pasted from TFA, which is apparently written from a slant that it is bad news.

Re:Making the summary not completely backwards (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114978)

Seriously, the summary would suggest that this is bad news. It's in fact good news for everyone but record companies.

Sure - this is bad news for the record companies.
But how is this good news for anyone except the artists?

all i needed to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30114608)

is the date this will happen and when the music is from 1978

This needs a campaign (2, Insightful)

LihTox (754597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114630)

I'm not volunteering to run it, mind you, but this calls for a campaign directed at the artists, to encourage them to get out from underneath the RIAA's thumb. Extol the merits of Creative Commons, of self-publishing, etc. Set up a website keeping track of those artists who've reclaimed their copyright, and cheer with each new name. It looks like there is a time limit on this, and some of the artists might not hear about it or might not think it's important.

It won't work on everyone, and some artists might be just as bad or worse than the RIAA, but overall the more copyrights the RIAA loses, the better it will be for everyone (except them).

Speedy Wheels of Justice (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114648)

The Eagles plan to file grant termination notices by the end of the year.

And I look forward to seeing the case conclude by the end of my lifetime.

Re:Speedy Wheels of Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30115000)

The Dude: Jesus, man, could you change the channel?
Cab Driver: Fuck you man. If you don't like my fuckin' music get your own fuckin' cab!
The Dude: I had a rough...
Cab Driver: I pull over and kick your ass out!
The Dude: Come on, man. I had a rough night and I hate the fuckin' Eagles, man!

"GIVE ME MY MONEY" (-1, Offtopic)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114672)

arch liberals Don Henley and Babs scream "GIVE ME MY MONEY...."

That's too funny.

Re:"GIVE ME MY MONEY" (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114846)

arch liberals Don Henley and Babs scream "GIVE ME MY MONEY...." That's too funny.

Since a liberal is someone who wants personal freedoms protected but business regulated, I don't get the joke.

I love this part of the article... (3, Informative)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114686)

The second option is to re-record sound recordings in order to create new sound recording copyrights, which would reset the countdown clock at 35 years for copyright grant termination. Eveline characterized the labels’ conversations with creators going something like, “Okay, you have the old mono masters if you want — but these digital remasters are ours.”

Labels already file new copyrights for remasters. For example, Sony Music filed a new copyright for the remastered version of Ben Folds Five’s Whatever and Ever Amen album, and when Omega Record Group remastered a 1991 Christmas recording, the basis of its new copyright claim was “New Matter: sound recording remixed and remastered to fully utilize the sonic potential of the compact disc medium.”

You know damn well if you tried this yourself, the RIAA would be all over your ass

Houston... we have chickens... (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114912)

Houston? We have chickens, and it looks like they are coming home to roost.

Karma is such a fun toy.

Round of Applause (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114968)

Lets have a round of applause for music. It's going to escape its captors , the music industry, when they die.
Musicians need an industry like fish need bicycles. Musicians will thrive on their own and actually make some money.
Don't get me wrong, the way we find music is going to change. Change is good. No one with any brains will copyright music unless it's GPL like.
Musicians can still get paid for commercial use or just toss it to the world. Revenues from touring will go to the band instead of thieving middlemen and the band can pay for whatever services they require,pocketing the rest.
          Quality? Let's think about what happens to art when it's industrialized. You get mass produced paintings to hang in trailer houses, yet there are still talented artists selling their unique paintings individually worldwide. Here the industry is largely ignored because talented artists haven't been made to rely on an industry or face obscurity.
        So, people of the world, keep on doin what you can to kill the music industry, soon something wonderful is going to happen.

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