back to article MPs cosy up with Sir Cliff on copyright term

Like Sir Cliff Richard, its biggest cheerleader and biggest embarrassment, the record industry campaign to extend copyright term on sound recordings refuses to die. A report released today by the Commons Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee attempts to torpedo the recommendations of last year's wide-ranging intellectual …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cliff Richard is just a singer

    He recorded Living doll, written by Lionel Bart in 1959.

    And again 27 years later with the young ones in 1986.

    He can record it again if he wants. In recording it again, he makes a new recording, with new marketing and new sales and new studio costs, and new engineers employed and new commerce and a new copyright limits. i.e. the world moves forward and the IP industry makes and sells stuff and the economy benefits.

    A win win win situation.

    Or he could whine and wish someone would buy his 1959 recording which benefits nobody. A lose lose lose situation.

    Look at it this way, the builder who built the walls of the studio in 1959 only got paid once, he doesn't get a royalty from everyone who uses the studio for 50 years. That's a strong inducement to put up new better walls, Cliff and his family and his families family can't rest on his laurels forever.

    Got my self a crying, whining, weeping, griping living dick.

  2. JimC

    IP rights Lifespan

    It seems reasonable to me that all Intellectual Property rights should be life of author/authors partner. The concept of an artist (and there are many living in poverty for every Cliff Richard) eking out a poverty stricken retirement whilst companies make money from the music (or whatever) they created seems pretty unjust. On the other hand the current copyright situation of author's death plus 70 years seems to much the other way. Perhaps creators' birthdate plus 50 years or creator/partners death, whichever is later, would be a more equable situation.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the artist couldn't make money, how can the corp?

    "The concept of an artist (and there are many living in poverty for every Cliff Richard) eking out a poverty stricken retirement whilst companies make money from the music (or whatever) they created seems pretty unjust."

    That assumes they didn't make money out of it while the copyright was theirs, but somehow once they lose control, corps do make money out of it.

    is their work valuable or not?

  4. Paul Fleetwood

    Why partner's lifespan?

    The point of copyright was never to provide a pension in perpetuity, it was to encourage creation of further new work by guaranteeing a benefit by protecting their income.

    There's no reason whatsoever that the family of the performer should be getting paid out of it, 50 years to get the benefit of the payment surely is long enough to be able to stash some away should that be desired.

    With regards to Cliff he was a performer of fairly average little pop songs, and I fail to see any case for him being kept in the manner to which he has become accustomed so many years after his red bus left the word of pop

    If he wants more cash, he needs to release more mawkish Christmas singles

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The rich get richer

    It's important to point out that we are talking about the rights to a specific recording. Not the rights to the work itself. The reason that the likes of Cliff et al want to up the 50 years after recording is because offen they didn't write the song or have sold on the rights and while the company/author/owner of the song will get further cash for a re-record/cover Cliff et al won't, and why should they?

    If the performer wrote the song, they get money if it is re-recorded, unless they sold it, like the Beatles.

    This proposed law is about allowing the rich to get richer while doing sod all and nothing about struggling artists. If you haven't managed to make the most out of a recording after 50 years, you aint going to be getting much after 50 years.

  6. Sean Baggaley

    Hang on...

    Lonnie Donegan only died in 2002. It'll be 2052 before the copyright on his recordings ends. Don't MPs read their own damned laws?

  7. Ashley Black

    poor starving artists? get a grip.

    I am getting a bit tired of the "eking out a poverty stricken retirement" argument for artists. What makes them so special? They can invest in a pension scheme like the rest of the population has to do.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All Aboard The Gravy Train

    Why is it that a musician who manages to produce a handful of relatively popular tunes in their youth be able to muck about for the rest of their days pottering about doing 'self interest' projects, all the while creaming the royalty income from the result of a few weeks hard work they did half a century before.

    You might draw a comparison with a financial investment portfolio, but even that doesn't hold up because investments require careful maintenance - I suppose ancient pop hits do get some kind of maintenance in the form of being rehashed in 'golden oldies' compilation disks, but thats stretching things a bit as the artist isn't usually involved.

    What about famous artists - their works sell for millions, but do they (or their posthumous beneficiaries) get royalties each time a painting gets resold?

    Basically my opinion is that it all comes down to greed in the end ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    50 Years?

    poor old Cliff Richard eh?

    If I do a days work, I get a days pay for it... he did some work 50 years ago... and is complaining he soon won't be still being paid for it...

    hasn't he heard of savings, a pension? is he so poor that he can't afford to lose the royalties from something he did 5 decades ago?

  10. Martin Taylor

    IP Rights Lifespan

    JimC, remember Cliff isn't the author, only the performer. Performers are typically paid a lot more than authors/composers, who are the real creative people in the situation, and who are the ones who really deserve protection for themselves and for their families. (Though even that situation has got out of hand, IMHO.)

  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    The purpose of copyright

    Was originally to give an innovator a LIMITED period of protection during which they could benefit from their ingenuity, but that protection would then lapse allowing the wider community to benefit from their invention (okay I'm not sure that any benefits accrue to society from the deathless melody of 'Livin' Doll', but bear with me).

    Cliff and co. want all the benefits of copyright to extend to themselves, their children (maybe not in Cliff's case), grandchildren and so on. Left alone, these copyright extensionists would only have to work once in their lives, then live on the royalties until the end of time.

    Hmmmm, I might try that with my employer, I wrote some brilliant stuff a few years back, why should I have to come up with something new when Cliff hasn't since some time in the early Mesozoic?

  12. Dave

    Life plus Ten

    In general agreement with JimC, something based on the lifetime of the artist, although I'd say something like "50 years, or until ten years after the death of the artist, whichever is longer".

  13. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    IP rights for life

    Copyright in any and all works should revert to the public a short time, say 10 years, after the author dies. That should be long enough for publishers to recover their initial outlay if the creator dies before or during priblication.

    Beyond that I can see no reason why the creator's record company, publisher, relatives or offspring should continue to get a free ride after his death.

  14. Richard Kay

    copyright economics, rights and obligations

    Copyright is an artificial and new legal privilege which was created after the invention of mechanical copying solely to encourage the creation of artistic work by giving the artist or writer a monopoly over commercial reproduction. If this were a long-term "moral" right, then I have no moral right to read my Bible, as the early Church would have been unable to copy original manuscripts righteously, once the original authors or their estates could no longer be contacted during times of persecution.

    Copyright terms of longer than 20 years or at most the 30 years given in the US constitution give no further incentive to the creation of original work in the first place. How many artists would refuse to write something if copyright were reduced to 20 years ? I think it very unlikely that such a copyright term reduction would reduce artistic output. On the contrary, if Sir Cliff has to write new songs for his pension rather than rest on his over-extended royalties then this is of benefit to all (other than those who would rather not listen to his new songs - OK bad example !).

    Any private privilege given by copyright is a restriction on the actions and rights of the rest of us, so there is no case for copyright to be extended beyond its economic purpose, other than to rub the fact of the privileged nature of society into the faces of those without privilege. Doing the latter, which is what those proposing copyright extension are really intending, can only create widespread disrespect for the law in general and this law in particular.

  15. Tim Cowlishaw

    @Sean Baggaley:

    Copyright in sound recordings is held for 50 years from the date of publication, rather than the date of death of the author (as opposed to the life + 70 years) for most other types of work), so in this case, the MPs did get their sums right.

  16. Richard Neill

    Infinte copyright

    should be granted by law, but *only* to an artist who has done all the creating himself, without any external sources of inspiration. Anyone who has been inspired by the works of other artists, or who has drawn upon the public domain, should be obliged to compensate them in kind, i.e. to have his own work fall into the public domain.

    Incidentally, creative works would not be harmed if there were no financial reward: those who think that creativity can be paid for don't understand the impulse to create. (I do think we should support our artists, but acknowledge that the best art/music comes from those who do it for love, not money)

  17. C Webb

    Oh puh-lease!

    Cliff Richard? Macca?

    These are hardly people who are on their uppers are they?

    Whilst Macca did at least have a hand in writing his hits, 'old Harry' was just a strange looking, and somewhat greasy, kid who could (sort-of) hold a tune and who really just fancied being Elvis, but never quite got the hang of the 'lip'.

    That gives him no 'gravy train rights' for the rest of his life, nor does it imply that he ever had any higher talent which entitles him to any more income for past (so-called) work than he has already had.

    Let's face it, these guys are just minstrels, they have no special powers or insights, and serve no functional use other than distracting us mere mortals from reality for a few minutes every now and then.

    We should do our utmost to resist this move - otherwise it'll just encourage them and others like them - and do you really want that?

    I just hate to see the establishment 'buying in' to this argument, fawning over these so-called 'entertainers' and succumbing to 'celebrity worship' - whilst the real (and unsung - 'scuse the pun) heroes get no credit at all and have to earn every penny every step of the way, working for the whole of their adult lives.

    BTW Harry (if you read this) - we're not related (and if we are, I'll deny it!).

  18. david

    copyright from date of birth, not death

    The problem with copyright till death is that, looking at a book/record, there is no way to tell if the artist/author has died.

    Dating copyright from data of birth or date of publication means that you can always tell when copyright will expire. This is why old books had date of publication, and sometimes date of birth.

    Of course, not knowing when the artist will die, you may want to extend the copyright period out to say 70 years(!), which is why it was extended from 10 or 20 years.

    Extending it out 70 years from date of death is doubly extending it, and was a massive con job by the publishers right from the first.

    Libraries new this, which is why libraries got specific exemption from some of the (new) copyright rules: they knew they would never again be able to tell if a publication was out of copyright.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    copyright from date of birth, not death

    The problem with copyright till death is that, looking at a book/record, there is no way to tell if the artist/author has died.

    Dating copyright from data of birth or date of publication means that you can always tell when copyright will expire. This is why old books had date of publication, and sometimes date of birth.

    Of course, not knowing when the artist will die, you may want to extend the copyright period out to say 70 years(!), which is why it was extended from 10 or 20 years.

    Extending it out 70 years from date of death is doubly extending it, and was a massive con job by the publishers right from the first.

    Libraries new this, which is why libraries got specific exemption from some of the (new) copyright rules: they knew they would never again be able to tell if a publication was out of copyright.

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