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Copyright Time Bomb Set To Go Off 402

Posted by kdawson
from the insult-to-injury dept.
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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Copyright Time Bomb Set To Go Off

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  • by lordmetroid (708723) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:13AM (#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.
    • 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 differen

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jonbryce (703250)

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

      • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:51AM (#30116046)

        The works you see by the same author released by seperate companies are in the public domain.

        Anyone can print the original words of Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte, Dumas. Anything publisher specific (layout, annotations, et cetera) is exclusive to that publisher. The same goes with compositions. Anyone can record works by Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, as the sheetmusic is in the public domain, but whoever releases it is whoever cut the recording deal with the orchestra.

      • by Knara (9377) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:03PM (#30117060)
        That's because the performance recording is copyrighted, not the source material itself. Subtle, but important, difference.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:49AM (#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.
    • by perlchild (582235) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:54AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ironchew (1069966)

        RIAA member companies

        What heresy is this? Slashdot can always get behind the bashing of a big bad faceless association, but now you want to actually get to the heart of this and punish the members? From Wikipedia:
        'The RIAA represents over 1,600 member labels...The largest and most influential of the members are the "Big Four" which include:
        * EMI
        * Sony Music Entertainment
        * Universal Music Group
        * Warner Music Grou

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:54AM (#30115304) Journal

          When either power or money becomes concentrated, the people's liberty shrinks. I'd only go after the the megacorps on your list. Also 35 years is too long. That exceeds the lifetime of many artists (from the time they wrote the song to when they die). Look at the Beatles. Many of them died before the thirty-five year timespan ended, and that's just not right.

          14 years (Original 1790 Act) would be better.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SEWilco (27983)
            Ever hear of an estate? Where the assets, such as copyright grants, have value which the deceased's will can direct to benefit the surviving family members? So a hard-working artist who dies too young can still take care of his family?
            • by Dotren (1449427) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:32PM (#30116556)

              Valid point and it's a tricky argument. Obviously it is nice to be able to take care of your family in the event of a tragic situation occurring.

              How about the estate gets the copyright for the duration of the original copyright? Lets use the 14 year copyright the GP mentioned.. if the artist dies ant there are still 9 years left on the copyright then the estate could retain the copyright for 9 years. If there is only 5 months left then the estate only gets the remaining 5 months.

              This way, the copyright is honored to it's entirety and the estate benefits, assuming the copyright hasn't expired already. True, it would suck if the copyright only had a month left on it and the holder died and didn't leave much for his/her estate but that could be chalked up to bad planning (for emergencies) as the copyright has already payed out as much as it was ever going to.

              Much of anything more, I'm afraid, could be easily abused (as it has been already). We could use the argument that there should be an extension so the family can continue being supported... but then what if a corporation gets the copyright.. just think of all the people working at the corporation and their families....

              Copyright should not be a retirement plan.. not for the artist and not for their estates or corporations.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by MozeeToby (1163751)

                How about the original copyright or 5 years, whichever is greater. So if the original, unextended copyright was set to expire in 3 months, the family could apply for the extention but would get only a 5 year extention. That gives the family plenty of time to arrange their finances (even enough time to get a degree and search for a job if that is necissary). I find that better than just saying tough tooties to the family.

                On the other hand, ideally what I would like to see is sane limits to begin with. Ho

            • by Misch (158807) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:38PM (#30116632) Homepage

              Ever hear of an estate? Where the assets, such as copyright grants, have value which the deceased's will can direct to benefit the surviving family members? So a hard-working artist who dies too young can still take care of his family?

              Part of the problem that came out of Eldred v. Ashcroft is that the Supreme Court (for some reason) found that the retroactive copyright term extension somehow induced content creators to create more works.

              In reality, this is wrong. When you create a work, copyright attaches to the work. You follow the social contract, you know your work is protected for a certain period of time, and then it enters the public domain. The extension does nothing for what I might do in the present. The new social contract for new works might entice me to create new works, but the retroactive extension did nothing.

            • by mweather (1089505) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:42PM (#30116702)
              Too young? We're talking 35 years. Unless he was writing as an infant, you're looking at a minimum age of ~50 if he died after the copyright expires. Since when is 50 "too young"? If, at 50, you haven't provided for your family in case you die, you probably never will. If in 35 years of marketing your creation you can't make it worth your while, it never will be worth your while.
            • by Omestes (471991) <{omestes} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:45PM (#30116784) Homepage Journal

              So artists are the only ones to get a government enforced and mandated estate? When I, or anyone else who isn't dealing with eternal copyrights, die my estate will consist of my assets and savings, minus debt. When an "artist" dies, their estate is assets and savings, plus a government mandated money tree. There is nothing saying "artists" can save up money and leave it to their children just like the rest of us. I don't see why "saving money" is an onus that "artists" should be saved from?

              Also, this is a bit of a misnomer, since most of these "artists" copyrights are not making money for their children, they are making money (for all eternity) for large corporations that had nothing to do with creating music in the first place.

              Does Arkham House (for example) really deserve to have the rights (and thus get a cut) of most of H.P. Lovecrafts works? Why the hell did they do to deserve such an eternal money maker?

              Personally I think copyright should be limited to the life of the "artist", and completely non-transferable. And if you opt out of the non-transferable bit, it should be a flat, non-renewable, 30 years. I know this will never happen, so in the spirit of compromise I like the idea of a 15 year copyright, with one free extension, and after that all extensions cost a rising amount of money (based on the market value of the property).

              We forget that copyright was not created (at least in the US) for the good of the artist, but for the good of the public.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Dare nMc (468959)

                When an "artist" dies, their estate is assets and savings, plus a government mandated money tree.

                IP seams to be treated like any other asset, just like a business, farm land, collectibles, etc. IE it has a present value, some expected return that is not guaranteed, just like any other asset.
                The beetles are a good example, they created a business to hold the rights to their albums, so that the revenue wouldn't be taxed as income (lower than the 90% tax rate), but @ capital gains.
                If it ceased to have value the day a artist died, then the value of that asset would be greatly reduced, thus greatly reducin

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Mitreya (579078)
                Personally I think copyright should be limited to the life of the "artist", and completely non-transferable.

                I understand the reasoning you have, but you are wrong. This has been discussed ad nauseam. You don't want to create a situation where artists living or dying has such a grand financial effect. Imagine if someone (say, a competitor) had a financial incentive to kill your top performing artist(s) and put you out of a business overnight? Suppose you sign a singer up for 5 albums and while they are

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by element-o.p. (939033)

                So artists are the only ones to get a government enforced and mandated estate?

                No. Anyone engaging in any kind of creative work, from musicians to authors to painters to film makers, are given copyright protection. If you happen to be more technical than artsy, you still have hope in the form of patents. Furthermore, once you get out of minimum-wage employment, most 9-5 jobs have some kind of retirement plan with payouts to your estate after your death, as well. It may not be as good a payout as Bono or Brittney Spears will get, but...well, they are part of the minority that roll

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                Does Arkham House (for example) really deserve to have the rights (and thus get a cut) of most of H.P. Lovecrafts works? Why the hell did they do to deserve such an eternal money maker?

                Uh, yeah, they do deserve it. Arkham House was created by August Derleth, who was a friend of HP Lovecraft, and was a more financially successful writer. He didn't do it to make money, in fact he said (in 1970)"[T]he fact is that in no single year since its founding have the earnings of Arkham House met the expenses, so

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by BranMan (29917)
              I don't want to seem cold-hearted here, but why doesn't this artist just buy some life insurance like the rest of us?? I mean c'mon people - that's what it's for!
    • by b4upoo (166390) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:57AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pigphish (1070214)
      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.
      • by oldspewey (1303305) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:34AM (#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.

      • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:52AM (#30115278)

        Incidentally, their concerts are probably under-priced, not over-priced. Long line-ups, same-day sellouts, and scalpers are all symptoms that the seller is not charging as much as the market will bear for their tickets. You might not think the tickets, merch, etc are worth the prices they charge, but clearly other fans do, and there's no reason why the Eagles should sell you cheaper stuff when other people will happily pay more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Casca (4032)

          Possibly, however trying to wring every last cent out of their fans based on a simple supply/demand model might not work out too well in the long run. There are a lot more choices out there, so if the fans get the feeling they're just a bunch of dollar signs, and that the band is in it just for the money, demand might dry up. Keeping the price lower could keep demand higher by helping to sustain their popularity and keep the fans around longer.

    • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:08AM (#30114722) Journal

      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.

      • by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:24AM (#30114868) Homepage

        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!

        • by TheLink (130905) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:23AM (#30115696) Journal
          Exactly.

          That's why I find it really funny how some people can think that voting doesn't work (voters can't influence Governments to do the right thing), but at the same time think that people can vote with their wallets (influence companies to do the right thing)...

          Voting doesn't work if there are too many stupid/ignorant voters. Whether it's voting with wallets or with ballot boxes.
      • by jbengt (874751) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:19PM (#30117306)
        RTFA
        No copyrights are being terminated, only the assignment of them to the recording labels is being terminated. The copyrights will revert to the original authors/composers/recordists (if the proper paperwork is filed)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:01AM (#30115418)

      The music biz has known for at least seven years, probably more like a decade, that they were heading for dire straits exactly because they couldn't be arsed to sign up new talent (which takes some 10 years to mature as that is what humans need to become really good at something; compare "break through" stories, all the mainstay big names needed it, even child-prodigy Mozart), and instead chose to hash up previous fare with some one-shot novelty sauce. You know, having some young'uns re-do big hits, re-use golden oldie themes with an obnoxious beat, that sort of thing. Or selling "gangsta rap"; selling bad sex, worse drug abuse, and 'hood kill-thy-brother glory across the world. Originally that was music made by black slum schlemiels to get out of just such gangland.

      The seven year figure because I attended ADE 2002 where all the european dance music bigwigs attended and they had it spelled out to them in various panels and presentations. Piracy has nothing on corporate greed and stupidity. I have no sympathy for the big publishers.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:13AM (#30114344)
    Pardon the pun, but the record companies need to face the music.
    • Re:Good (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:28AM (#30114426)

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

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Funny)

      by daem0n1x (748565) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:48AM (#30114560)
      The Funeral March, I hope.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      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

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by i_ate_god (899684) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:08AM (#30115498) Homepage

        The cost goes into marketing the band, producing music videos, large international tours, studio engineers. You've got to make millions of CDs and distribute them internationally. A graphic artist has to make the cover. Photography of the band.

        People seem to forget in this whole debate that the actual process of making an album, and then getting it heard through all the noise is expensive, whether you're part of a major label, an indie label, or on you own. It costs thousands of dollars to record, produce, and engineer an album. Then once you have that, how do you get people to listen to it? Throwing up mp3s on your website with a for sale sign won't garner much attention at all. Throwing your mp3s out there for free on torrent trackers won't garner much attention either.

        So yes, money does move around the industry. The bigger the band, the more people are involved in its success. Stage hands, road crew, bus driver, marketing and advertisement agencies, promotion companies, distributors, brick & mortar stores, video crews, for-hire musicians to add additional tracks (like hiring an orchestra).

        Now, because all this money is going to all sorts of different people, to say that it's just the RIAA being greedy is a little naive. These labels have tonnes of money that I'm willing to bet that other companies in this industry tried a little extortion of their own. HMV bumping up stocking prices for major labels for example.

        So this money has to be reinvested into the system as people raise their prices, and bands/labels try to out-glam each other with ever more extravagant productions.

        I'm not pro RIAA, nor do I think the whole industry is fair at all, but it's important to understand what actually goes on before anyone thinks there is a solution.

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pwfffff (1517213) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:36PM (#30116584)

          "The cost goes into marketing the band, producing music videos, large international tours, studio engineers. You've got to make millions of CDs and distribute them internationally. A graphic artist has to make the cover. Photography of the band."

          Most of that crap is unnecessary and is simply there to fuel the fattened industry. The way I see it, most of the marketing is only there to recoup the cost from, well, most of their marketing. Do you honestly think that fans would know or care if the pictures on their favorite bands website weren't the result of a $10,000 photo shoot, but were instead taken by fans at a concert and uploaded to Myspace?

          I just find it really hard to believe that if Miley Cyrus were to record a track on her own, upload it to her blog, and sell an unencumbered version of it for $1, she would make no profit. That cuts out graphic artists, distributors, agents, CEOs, secretaries, RIAA lawyers, brick and mortar stores, promotion companies, and marketers, and yet the product is the same.

          So all you've proven is that there is lots of money in the industry. You haven't defended it being there, and you haven't even really argued against the parent's point which was that this money isn't being used to improve the product. Well, actually, I suppose that only holds true if you assume that the product of the music industry is music.

          So in a way I guess you HAVE argued your point, but only by pointing out that the point of the music industry isn't to produce music. And that in turn kind of proves the parent's overall point, which was that this money (and really this industry) doesn't deserve to be there.

          tl;dr Right now the RIAA doesn't serve to produce better music, more music, or even insightful, innovative, and interesting music; it simply uses its resources to convince stupid people to buy their crap. The 'greed' part comes when they pretend that they're necessary.

          To the overpaid marketer in the corner going 'But that's my JOB you're talking about!': I don't give a shit; get a real job you manipulative parasite.

          • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Lord Dreamshaper (696630) <lord_dreamshaper@ya h o o . ca> on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:39PM (#30117740)
            I just find it really hard to believe that if Miley Cyrus were to record a track on her own, upload it to her blog, and sell an unencumbered version of it for $1, she would make no profit

            Sure...and how much money did they have to spend to make Miley into an OMG MUST HAVE!!!!1!1!! "talent"? Looking around, I don't see a lot of future Led Zepellins, Doors, Pink Floyds or around...there's an overwhelming amount of money wasted in foisting crap on us, but it's easier (and therefore cheaper) to manufacture an image than to find, nuture & promote a legit talent. This system is corrupt and broken, & it does rape the artists, but it *would* require significant investment by the labels even if were run honestly.
  • Interesting times (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:14AM (#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!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by east coast (590680)
      I really don't know why this got modded up so much. I think it shows a certain chain of logic failure that *starts* with the artist.

      A lot of older artists have realised in this day and age how much the record companies were fleecing them back in the day.

      And a guy who plays the guitar is qualified to have made better business decision how exactly? Artists willfully sign up for what a label offers. There is no gun to anyone's head. The market conditions set the price and artists have been free to take it
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:15AM (#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.

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

    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:49AM (#30114568) Homepage
      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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by blincoln (592401)

        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.

        Please listen to some Skinny Puppy from the 80s, the Plunderphonics album, the collective works of Duran Duran Duran*, etc. Sampling in the right hands is a very effective musical element. Sadly that sort of work isn't done very often anymore, because of the legal barriers that have been created.

        * not Duran Duran, although I like their m

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gbarules2999 (1440265)
        Have you heard ThruYOU [thru-you.com]? That might change your mind.
  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:22AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:31AM (#30114444) Journal

      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.

      • by Jared555 (874152)

        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 (Score:5, Informative)

          by mdmkolbe (944892) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:04AM (#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).

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        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.

      • by Ritchie70 (860516)

        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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mounthood (993037)

        Maybe even software? I mean, why not?

        So can copyright assigned to the Free Software Foundation be taken back? How would that affect the license that the software was released under? http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-assign.html [gnu.org]

    • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:32AM (#30114452) Homepage
      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 (Score:5, Funny)

        by db32 (862117) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:54AM (#30114606) Journal
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AndersOSU (873247)

        worth noting that the RIAA's influence has also substantially waned since the last time Congress tried to bone the creatives (1999) thus decreasing the motivation for congress to carry their water.

    • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Funny)

      by guruevi (827432) <evi.smokingcube@be> on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:40AM (#30114498) Homepage

      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.

  • by bcmm (768152)
    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)?
  • Tables turned (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr_gorkajuice (1347383) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:38AM (#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"
  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:40AM (#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....

    • by AP31R0N (723649) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:53AM (#30114592)

      Speaking of Courtney Love:

      http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/ [salon.com]

      • by Fred IV (587429) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:24AM (#30115720)
        Good read in the linked article from parent comment...

        Last November, a Congressional aide named Mitch Glazier, with the support of the RIAA, added a "technical amendment" to a bill that defined recorded music as "works for hire" under the 1978 Copyright Act.

        He did this after all the hearings on the bill were over. By the time artists found out about the change, it was too late. The bill was on its way to the White House for the president's signature.

        That subtle change in copyright law will add billions of dollars to record company bank accounts over the next few years -- billions of dollars that rightfully should have been paid to artists. A "work for hire" is now owned in perpetuity by the record company.

        Under the 1978 Copyright Act, artists could reclaim the copyrights on their work after 35 years. If you wrote and recorded "Everybody Hurts," you at least got it back to as a family legacy after 35 years. But now, because of this corrupt little pisher, "Everybody Hurts" never gets returned to your family, and can now be sold to the highest bidder.

        Over the years record companies have tried to put "work for hire" provisions in their contracts, and Mr. Glazier claims that the "work for hire" only "codified" a standard industry practice. But copyright laws didn't identify sound recordings as being eligible to be called "works for hire," so those contracts didn't mean anything. Until now.

  • by Jared555 (874152) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:40AM (#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?

    • by Rary (566291) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:03AM (#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.

    • 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 n

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:48AM (#30114558) Homepage

    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.

  • Goodbye, record labels.

  • by LihTox (754597) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:57AM (#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).

  • 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.

  • by rrossman2 (844318) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:04AM (#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
    • Derivative Work? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JSBiff (87824)

      Seems to me that the problem with that is that the 'new recording', while it does have a second copyright, is still subject to the original copyright because it is a derivative work, right? So, the record company *might* hold the copyright on the derivative, but without permission from the primary copyright holder, they have no right to distribute the derivative work, I think? IANAL, so if I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

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