More on the EU music copyright term extension

There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet recently about the EU’s plans to extend the term of recorded music copyright, which I mentioned last year. The Open Rights Group has created the following cartoon video to explain what the plans are and why they’re bad. I think the number of statistics (and jumps from euros to pounds) confuses the explanation somewhat, but it’s still well worth watching.

Tony Hirst of made an interesting observation about the whole affair: the record companies have built their whole business model around exploiting an ever-growing copyrighted back catalogue, and they’re scared of watching this reliable income stream evaporate, especially given the growth in illegal music copying made ever simpler by technological developments.

Unfortunately, the (recorded) music companies don’t seem to allow much in the way of fair or non-commercial use. For example Tame The Web recently reported that a parody of Madonna’s Ray of Light publicising a library on Youtube had been taken down. The library in question tried to do the right thing and contacted Warner Brothers to request permission to use the song, but ‘no one would give them the time of day’. If the companies won’t help people who are trying to do the right thing (see also DRM which is thankfully dying off), people are inevitably going to start wondering why they should bother even trying. I should point out now that I write this in a personal capacity, and in my job I do take copyright infringement seriously and stop anyone I catch in the act!

Incidentally, I make a distinction between recorded music companies and printed music publishers because some of the latter are a little more enlightened, e.g. giving permission when asked for students to photocopy a piece for the purposes of examination as long as they’re destroyed afterwards (examiners usually need a copy of the sheet music to refer to during the performance, and sheet music isn’t covered by any academic copying licences).

Finally, I thought this was a good time to re-blog this excellent video explaining copyright law using Disney film clips, because Disney has been the driving force behind multiple US term extensions (we can’t have Mickey Mouse in the public domain, can we?).


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