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Old 07-27-2014, 07:16 AM   #1
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Custodians of the Word?

There's an interesting 30 minute BBC Radio documentary available at the moment called "Custodians of the Word", which discusses why an author's work needs to be protected after their death. Should be available world-wide at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076g3d
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Old 07-27-2014, 08:59 AM   #2
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Custodians of the Word?

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There's an interesting 30 minute BBC Radio documentary available at the moment called "Custodians of the Word", which discusses why an author's work needs to be protected after their death. Should be available world-wide at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076g3d
Very interesting. It opens whole areas of discussion for which, I don't think this particular thread is the right place. It might be interesting to open a thread in the general discussion forum.
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Old 07-27-2014, 09:11 AM   #3
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Good idea - I'll move it to a separate thread.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:41 AM   #4
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Lots of facets to this topic. This one for example:

"Don't protect by destruction"

I disagree. I see nothing wrong with authors destroying material (diaries, letters, memos, etc) they don't want to see the light of day. It's their property.
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Old 07-27-2014, 12:33 PM   #5
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Lot's of interesting points, some of which I would consider as arguments why we _shouldn't_ allow copyright after death, though it wasn't presented that way in the program.

The point that I thought the best was something said at the end, when one of the interviewees mentioned something along the lines of after a certain amount of time just have a limited copyright. Allow anyone to use the material, but you have to pay some sort of royalty to the author's estate. That is a compromise that I could support to replace the current copyright laws. Simply give the author unlimited copyright for 27 years, then anyone can copy the material, but they have to pay a royalty fee to the author or estate. We should probably assign the collection and enforcement to some sort of author's guild (kind of like the way radio pays to play various songs).

Some of the other points that I though was interesting was the apparent fact that in the UK author's executors can pretty much control biographies (and presumably other such material) by denying someone the right to quote material. In the US, I believe this is considered a fair use exemption of copyright but maybe biographies are a bit more complex than that.

I actually agree with Tubemonkey on the don't protect by destruction. I'm a big believer in privacy and I don't believe that the public at large has any particular right to know that some famous author was bi or had personal believes that we now consider unsavory. On the other hand, if you wrote it in a letter to someone, then I also don't think you have a right to block the publication of that letter.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:05 AM   #6
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Compulsory licensing is tricky stuff.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_license

It's at the root of musicians dissatisfaction with subscription music services: the revenues are low and they can't do anything but lobby politicians.

Book subscription services, being negotiated, at least allow the rights holder to opt-out.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:06 PM   #7
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Perhaps, yet copyright is a government granted monopoly on a work that was granted to forward the public good. The point was to give artists incentive to create, not to give their heirs a perpetual gravy train. Musicians have had compulsory licenses under radio for a long, long time. It's the only way that music on radio is possible, and the major way that artists introduced their music to the public. Don't recall reading about very many music groups complaining about having their songs on the radio, back when radio was popular.
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Old 07-29-2014, 01:37 AM   #8
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Perhaps, yet copyright is a government granted monopoly on a work that was granted to forward the public good. The point was to give artists incentive to create, not to give their heirs a perpetual gravy train. Musicians have had compulsory licenses under radio for a long, long time. It's the only way that music on radio is possible, and the major way that artists introduced their music to the public. Don't recall reading about very many music groups complaining about having their songs on the radio, back when radio was popular.
Nope.
Because you needed a recording contract to be anything but a local act and for decades nothing else could get airplay. And without airplay you couldn't get fans in numbers.

Over time things changed and indie music became not just respectable, but cool.
CDs made it possible for even local acts to sell music without a contract and get into stores.
And then the internet came along and blew the old status quo to smithereens. Nowadays radio airplay is way down the list of ways to build and support a fanbase. And many musicians feel that the compensation system that (barely) worked a half century ago is no longer working for them.

I suspect that, rather than compulsory licensing being expanded to other media types, it is more likely to be reined-in. Especially where it comes to performances.
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Old 07-29-2014, 09:57 PM   #9
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Yep, or at least my guitar teacher seems to like getting the monthly royalty checks for his stuff. Sure local bands could cut CD's, but that didn't mean that they got into the stores without a label behind them. CD's have been around for about 20 years, the major labels still dominate.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:17 AM   #10
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CD's have been around for about 20 years, the major labels still dominate.
32 years. Audio CDs were introduced in 1982.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:16 AM   #11
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Do you have to keep reminding me that I'm that much older than I feel? ;-)

Right now, kids use youTube the way my generation used radio way back when 8 track was a new thing. It's a way of finding out what new songs are popular. There is a reason that people want to know the number of views a video has. I'm sure that many musicians wish that they were getting residuals on youTube plays like they did on radio plays.
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Old 08-01-2014, 03:59 AM   #12
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Perhaps, yet copyright is a government granted monopoly on a work that was granted to forward the public good. The point was to give artists incentive to create, not to give their heirs a perpetual gravy train. Musicians have had compulsory licenses under radio for a long, long time. It's the only way that music on radio is possible, and the major way that artists introduced their music to the public. Don't recall reading about very many music groups complaining about having their songs on the radio, back when radio was popular.
Providing for children, grandchildren etc. is an incentive for many people to continue working whether it is creative work or not.

This gravy train you speak of is the exception, not the rule and with the proliferation of new published works these days I doubt even the most popular of todays authors will be selling in quantity 50 years from now. The few that write works that will stand the test of time deserve to be encouraged in every way IMO even if it means their heirs will get an extra $100 or so a year in the far future and my heirs might have to contribute a dollar or so towards that.

Helen
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:06 AM   #13
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Providing for children, grandchildren etc. is an incentive for many people to continue working whether it is creative work or not.

This gravy train you speak of is the exception, not the rule and with the proliferation of new published works these days I doubt even the most popular of todays authors will be selling in quantity 50 years from now. The few that write works that will stand the test of time deserve to be encouraged in every way IMO even if it means their heirs will get an extra $100 or so a year in the far future and my heirs might have to contribute a dollar or so towards that.

Helen
But does extending copyright lengths far beyond an author's death really cause more people to write? I'd be strongly concerned about providing for a wife and young children. Not so much concerned about providing for adult children. Maybe a college fund for grandchildren. I'd find it very difficult to shoulder any burdens beyond that. At some point copyright length provides no motivation for anybody.

The program briefly mentioned the difficulty of finding many rights holders. What about a work that was unjustly ignored, faded into obscurity, should be resurrected but the current rights holder can't be found.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:43 AM   #14
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At some point copyright length provides no motivation for anybody.
It does if you're Disney.

Quote:
The program briefly mentioned the difficulty of finding many rights holders. What about a work that was unjustly ignored, faded into obscurity, should be resurrected but the current rights holder can't be found.
Change the laws. If a rights holder can't be found, then publish intent to use said work in a federal register. If the rights holder doesn't come forward within three years, then said work goes into public domain and can be freely used by anyone. The time frame is negotiable.

Even though I'm in favor of "forever" copyright, I'm also in favor of liberating orphan works. I have no desire to see these works languish in obscurity.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:50 AM   #15
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On the other hand, if you wrote it in a letter to someone, then I also don't think you have a right to block the publication of that letter.
And I agree with you on that.
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