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Old 02-15-2008, 12:18 PM   #1
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EU artists to collect royalties for 95 years

European internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy today announced his intention to propose to the College that the term of copyright protection for European performers be increased from 50 to 95 years. Summarising the main thrust of the proposal, Commissioner McCreevy stated: "I strongly believe that copyright protection for Europe's performers represents a moral right to control the use of their work and earn a living from their performances. I have not seen a convincing reason why a composer of music should benefit from a term of copyright which extends to the composer's life and 70 years beyond, while the performer should only enjoy 50 years, often not even covering his lifetime It is the performer who gives life to the composition and while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song – we can usually name the performer."

On the same day that the commission announced its intention to boost artists incomes from royalties, it also said it would have another look at the levies applied to blank compact discs, cassettes, hard drives, printers and other equipment used to copy artists' works.

(Via Europa and EU Observer.)
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Old 02-17-2008, 02:15 AM   #2
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Sounds like governments protecting corporate interests. I am sure the "artists rights" were an afterthought, as were the public's best interests.
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Old 02-17-2008, 02:18 AM   #3
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This is an extremely misleading thread title. This is a proposal, not a "done deal" and would need to be implemented in national law by each of the 26 member states of the EU separately. The UK has already rejected a proposal to increase the duration of performance copyrights.
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Old 02-17-2008, 04:02 AM   #4
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Surprise, surprise... the EU wants "levies applied to blank compact discs, cassettes, hard drives, printers and other equipment used to copy artists' works." What a great idea! Let's tax the shit out of companies that provide products with completely legal uses. After all, people don't commit crimes, companies commit crimes! Right? The economic genius of the EU always astounds me. They're so damn wise! Why, I want to move to Europe right now just so I can pay more for all my products, too. What an exciting prospect. Why haven't we ever thought of this? It's not like unwarrented taxes have ever started a revolution or anything.
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Old 02-17-2008, 05:29 AM   #5
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Surprise, surprise... the EU wants "levies applied to blank compact discs, cassettes, hard drives, printers and other equipment used to copy artists' works."
Er, no, they already do have such levies. What they are going to look at is whether those levies continue to be justified by new technologies.

Eg, at the moment, a levy is applies to CD-R Audio discs - the type used by HiFi CD recorders. They are about double the cost of normal CD-Rs for that reason.

You seem very cynical about this, Matt; may I ask why?
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:15 AM   #6
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This is an extremely misleading thread title. This is a proposal, not a "done deal" and would need to be implemented in national law by each of the 26 member states of the EU separately. The UK has already rejected a proposal to increase the duration of performance copyrights.
Harry, that was my fault. I should have edited the title before I put it on the front page. Sorry.
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:51 PM   #7
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Er, no, they already do have such levies. What they are going to look at is whether those levies continue to be justified by new technologies.

Eg, at the moment, a levy is applies to CD-R Audio discs - the type used by HiFi CD recorders. They are about double the cost of normal CD-Rs for that reason.

You seem very cynical about this, Matt; may I ask why?
I'm not a big fan of the EU butting into business. They took on Microsoft for having an "unfair advantage" (read: being more successful). They had Microsoft make a version of Windows without Media Player, a version that had very poor sales. Then the EU set its sights on Apple over the DRM issue even though it's Apple's perogative to have DRM on the music they sell. The EU acts like consumers have to purchase music and that they have to purchase it from Apple. They seemed to assume the same thing about Windows (and apparently people prefered Windows with Media Player). Now I have discovered that the EU favors levies for private copying materials. I don't know the specifics of what role the EU plays here. Wikipedia only has certain countries listed. However, I consider it ridiculous to put a tax on private copying products because they can be used strictly for personal material. CD-Rs and DVDs don't have to be used for commercial material. Ultimately, it makes products more expensive for consumers and (no matter how small the tax) put more of a financial strain on a company. It's bad economics and the EU is notorious for bad economics. I hate it when any government institution pretends to know what's best for consumers and the EU just seems to be doing this more and more. Frankly, I probably wouldn't care much if the EU hadn't attacked U.S. companies. For instance, I don't agree with your government's plan to nationalize Northern Rock, but it doesn't really affect me. So, in a nutshell, my cynicism comes from my being hardcore laissez-faire and every time I see press on the EU it's usually about them picking a fight with some company.
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Old 02-17-2008, 06:58 PM   #8
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I think we are starting to see the implications of the EU move for "harmonization" of copyrights. Question, Harry, if this proposal is implemented, would this not be an incentive for the UK to re-approach the
performance length laws that were voted down in Parliment in the name of
compliance with EU directives?

I expect more of these proposals to be released over the next few months, affecting most other aspects of copyright law in the EU. Once again, I smell a Mouse (the animated kind). Follow the money......
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Old 02-18-2008, 12:56 PM   #9
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Frankly, I probably wouldn't care much if the EU hadn't attacked U.S. companies. For instance, I don't agree with your government's plan to nationalize Northern Rock, but it doesn't really affect me. So, in a nutshell, my cynicism comes from my being hardcore laissez-faire and every time I see press on the EU it's usually about them picking a fight with some company.
An attitude of laissez-faire is fine as a general principle, but it has to have limits. It was the mid-Victorian enthusiasm for laissez-faire, for example, which saw 6 year old boys being sent up chimneys by chimney-sweeps. There are some things that government has to take a hand in, and unfair commercial practices is one of them.

A couple of examples where EU "interference" has been a good thing for consumers is the mobile phone business (where all the operators had ludicrously high "roaming" charges between EU countries), and the motor industry (where all the manufacturers were engaged in an illegal cartel to artificially fix prices). EU involvement has resulted in massive cuts in roaming charges for mobile phone users, and real competition in the motor industry's pricing - all good for the consumer.

Some things I don't agree with, however; I agree with you that Microsoft are being punished for their own success - but hasn't something similar happened in the US too?

The Northern Rock business is a tricky one. Yes, one might argue that they got themselves into trouble through dubious investments, but they are a major bank with some US$200bn of assets. London is one of the world's major financial centres; if investors had doubts that money placed with a UK bank was "safe", it could seriously damage the reputation of the City of London as a banking centre; I think the government had no choice but to intervene, exceptional though it is to do so. NR was the first UK bank to experience a "run" in over a century.
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:02 PM   #10
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Some things I don't agree with, however; I agree with you that Microsoft are being punished for their own success - but hasn't something similar happened in the US too?
Yes, the US Dept of Justice went after them, too. But it wasn't just a matter of being successful... it was a matter of unscrupulously forcing retail vendors to adopt their products, whether they wanted to or not, by dictating one-sided licensing agreements that the vendors could not pass on without being pushed out of the market.

Those licensing agreements, in turn, forced retailers to remove other companies' software from a Windows-running PC, regardless of whether customers wanted it or not, stifling honest competition.

Microsoft was found guilty of deliberately restricting fair competition, but they essentially bought off the DoJ to avoid massive fines and other punishments. Most of us an America wish the EU well in kicking Microsoft's a$$.
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:08 PM   #11
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Once again, I smell a Mouse (the animated kind). Follow the money......
I'm not sure I see where that particular American corporation would influence, or gain by, this EU decision. This is about protecting performers, not publishers or corporations.
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:45 PM   #12
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Steve, I have to disagree. How many performer have total control over their historical performances, and do direct licensing? Very, very, few. (The Rolling Stones (post 1971) is the only one that comes to mind). In most cases, the performers receive a low royalty percentage, with the company retaining the majority of the gross. So who is actually getting protected? The performer is the poster child, (protect the artist...they need it!) but who gets the majority of the money? I'll bet the artists acting as lobbyists are subsidized, by the corporations holding the rights control, just like a concert tour. As I keep saying, follow the money... (Remember, a cynic is a surly blackguard who insists on see the world as it is, rather that as it should be.)

Now perhaps I should use EMI (or Warner Music) as the causitive corporations to complain about, but the Mouse House has had such a long history of being at the lobbying forefront of every kind of copyright extension, I felt it wouldn't be libelous to ascribe the credit to it.

All copyright extension legislation has been lobbied for of, by, and for corporations holding rights control. Their fiduicary responsibility requires them to. They cannot abandon a revenue stream for their shareholder, and the long term public good be damned.

But copyright was always created as being a limited wasting asset. I refuse to watch the frog get boiled slowly. Public domain is the patrimony of the whole human race, not a legal accident to be erased a bit at a time in the name of a legal fiction's bottom line.
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:50 PM   #13
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Steve, I have to disagree. How many performer have total control over their historical performances, and do direct licensing? Very, very, few. (The
Rolling Stones (post 1971) is the only one that comes to mind). In most cases, the performers receive a low royalty percentage, with the company retaining the majority of the gross. So who is actually getting protected? The performer is the poster child, (protect the artist...they need it!) but who gets the majority of the money? I'll bet the artists acting as lobbyists are subsidized, by the corporations holding the rights control, just like a concert tour. As I keep saying, follow the money... (Remember, a cynic is a surly blackguard who insists on see the world as it is, rather that as it should be.)

Now perhaps I should use EMI (or Warner Music) as the causitive corporations to complain about, but the Mouse House has had such a long history of being at the lobbying forefront of every kind of copyright extension, I felt it wouldn't be libelous to ascribe the credit to it.

All copyright extension legislation has been lobbied for of, by, and for corporations holding rights control. Their fiduicary responsibility requires them to. They cannot abandon a revenue stream for their shareholder, and the long term public good be damned.

But copyright was always created as being a limited wasting asset. I refuse to watch the frog get boiled slowly. Public domain is the patrimony of the whole human race, not a legal accident to be erased a bit at a time in the name of a legal fiction's bottom line.
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:54 PM   #14
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This isn't about (let's just say it) Disney retaining rights. This is about the performers retaining rights. If Disney gets a cut, it's because that's the contract the performer negotiated, to sign their rights away in return for fame, paid for by Disney.

That doesn't change the fact that the law is intended to protect the performer, not the corporation. Until I see details that clearly indicate otherwise, I'm not going to rain on the parade.

And we've had the debate about the value of copyright before, I'm not going to get into that.
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