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Copywrite, public domain question.


Gruupi

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At what point if ever does copywritten music become public domain. I assume most classical music from centuries past is open season. What is the time limit. I would think it would be fair that if the artist is still alive that they should recieve royalties. But how many generations of hiers will say the Hendrix catalog be privately owned. It seems that people could sell the rights indefinately.

 

If someone uncovers an unknown work by Mozart, is it their or their hiers property forever? Of course the depth of intellectual property law seems to be an American phenomenom anyways. I am not against these laws by any means, just curious.

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Originally posted by Gruupi:

But how many generations of hiers will say the Hendrix catalog be privately owned. It seems that people could sell the rights indefinately.

And why the hell not?

 

If Jimi hadn't played guitar and, instead, had invented (say) a new sort of bathroom tap, you wouldn't think anything of his great grandchildren living off the patent.

 

Or would you?

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Originally posted by Vince C.:

Originally posted by Gruupi:

But how many generations of hiers will say the Hendrix catalog be privately owned. It seems that people could sell the rights indefinately.

And why the hell not?

 

If Jimi hadn't played guitar and, instead, had invented (say) a new sort of bathroom tap, you wouldn't think anything of his great grandchildren living off the patent.

 

Or would you?

Ya I think they should be able to get compensation for as long as there is a market for the work!
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By design patents were not intended to be perpetual. Ideas have to be usable for something other than commercial interests in order to seed the next generation of ideas. Hardly anything is ever created out of whole cloth. Most works are usually derivative.

 

Copyrights used to last only a few years. This was to give the original artist the fruits of his labors so that he could live on the proceeds and provide an incentive to create more. They were never intended to provide income in perpetuity. And certainly never intended to provide for the families of the artist decades after they passed away.

 

We have companies like Disney and politicians like Sonny Bono (who had an interest in extending copyrights) to thank for the extension of the copyright terms. It's an abomination that copyright now lasts for 99 years. I'm surprised they weren't able to get the law changed to allow for perpetual copyright so that Disney can withhold Snow White, Mickey Mouse and other works forever and trot them out once every decade to make millions more on the work of long dead artists.

 

Music has long been a medium where people derived works from other people's music. Only now they have to pay for it for 99 years instead of the original (copyright act of 1790) 14 years and the original author could renew it for one 14 year period.

 

Did you know that the song "Happy Birthday To You" is copyrighted? And the copyright will not expire until 2062. It brings in about 2 million dollars a year to Warner Brothers. It was written by two sisters who were born in the mid 19th century (1859 and 1863).

 

Why should a corporation that didn't even exist in the 19th century benefit from the efforts of those two sisters on a song that was written in 1893? It's long since time that song was public domain.

 

I'm all for artists enjoying the fruits of their labors. But to assign enforceable rights to a song that old is just ridiculous. As far as I'm concerned copyrights should not outlive the original author's true or expected lifespan (whichever is longer).

Born on the Bayou

 

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I could not disagree more with LPCustom.

 

My father has created a portfolio, (property), that generates income and increases in value. He will be able to leave it to his heirs as he sees fit. And so through generations it can pass, and continue to generate wealth and revenue. That's what the Carnegies, the Rockefellers and the Kennedy's have done. Bill Gates will likely do something similar.

 

But if instead of stock, he created wealth and income through songwriting, (INTELLECTUAL property), then the right to control and benefit from that property would end after a defined period.

 

It would not be acceptable if the dividends of a stock portfolio were arbitrarily re-assigned, so why is it OK to do it with song generated revenue???? It's as if 70 years after death, anybody can live in the house that one person built.

 

Peace,

 

Paul

Peace,

 

Paul

 

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Intellectual property is VERY different from real property. Real property exists physically and is nearly impossible to create derivative works from.

 

On the other hand, intellectual property has been used over the centuries (yes, centuries) as seed for new creations. This is only possible if these creations are available for use.

 

Patents expire so that people can take inventions and use ideas from them or even incorporate the entire invention in a new invention. Think of the steam engine.

 

Something similar happens with copyrights. How would you feel if you wrote a song completely from scratch only to find that you created the same melody as a song from a hundred years ago that you had never even heard and had to pay royalties to someone else just to publish your song?

 

Copyrights expire to make room for new works that can build upon what's already there. I attribute the dearth of decent new music out there due to the extension of copyrights. If someone writes a song that sounds a lot like another song, they quite often end up in court. Even though the new work is a completely original work.

 

If you don't think that forcing artists to license existing old works to build on them (to use the tune from the chorus for example) stifles new compositions then you haven't been paying attention. Record companies charge insane fees to license a song or even parts of it.

 

Would you pay $50,000 to license the chorus (not the entire song, just the chorus) tune for a song that you want to write because it fits the rest of your song perfectly even though you may never make any money off your song?

 

It is a time honored practice to put new lyrics to an old tune. Our current copyright laws prevent this.

 

It comes down to ideas. There is only so much real property. Real property doesn't just disappear (barring natural disasters). You can't take real property and create new real property from it. It doesn't seed the creation of new property.

 

Intellectual property is not the same. It is the seeds of new creations. When we tie it up legally for long periods of time (several lifetimes) we stifle the creative process. If that weren't true, then copyrights would never have expired in the original legislation. Obviously, they didn't agree with you, either. Nowhere on Earth do intellectual property rights not eventually expire. In some countries, the concept of intellectual property doesn't even exist in law. The United States has the tightest and longest lasting intellectual property laws in the world.

 

I think we have gone too far. 99 years is a ridiculous length of time to profit from an idea.

Born on the Bayou

 

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LPCustom :

 

 

I don't know what to say. On the one hand, all that you say sounds pretty sensible but I still can't understand why some types of property are protectable in eternity, while others (ie intellectual property) are not.

 

As a software developer, I'm damned if I can see why MY (future) kids will not be able to benefit from MY work just so some other complete stranger will be able to recycle my source code. Screw that for a joke.

 

And if MY intellectual property can be protected then I have to accept that Walt Disney's intellectual property must be safeguarded as well.

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All I can say is that if you think you should have rights to your intellectual property in perpetuity then you really should read more about the philosophical relationship between those who create and those who consume. It's a symbiosis in which if either side gains too much of an upper hand both sides lose.

 

In other words, be careful what you wish for.

Born on the Bayou

 

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I see both sides of this issue.

 

On one hand, many pieces of intellectual property don't acheive much value until after the creator exprires. Shouldn't they be able to leave a legacy through inheritance to their heirs in hopes that their work may become profitable, regardless of whether it was profitable when the creator was alive?

 

Originally posted by rockincyanblues:

...Bill Gates will likely do something similar...

Actually, though no one knows what he will eventally do, Bill Gates has stated he intends to kick the little Gates' out of the nest to fend for themselves. Bill does not intend to leave his fortune to his heirs.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Originally posted by LPCustom:

All I can say is that if you think you should have rights to your intellectual property in perpetuity then you really should read more about the philosophical relationship between those who create and those who consume. It's a symbiosis in which if either side gains too much of an upper hand both sides lose.

 

In other words, be careful what you wish for.

What you say makes sense, but heck... if everyone else (Gates, Disney, et al) is going to be completely anally retentive about their copyrights why the heck should I be the only one to ask for a shorter copyright period?
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Originally posted by Vince C.:

...

 

If Jimi hadn't played guitar and, instead, had invented (say) a new sort of bathroom tap, you wouldn't think anything of his great grandchildren living off the patent.

 

Or would you?

Of course we would think something of it.

 

Our founding fathers put a lot of time and effort into this, and they came up with a quite liberal implementation of copyright. It was based on the idea of balance - balancing the need to let an author, composer, etc. profit from their creation for a limited time, with the great good of public domain exposing great work to a wide audience and thus promoting creativity.

 

The two extremes would be no copyright (we musicians know that we would still make music, but it sure is nice that we can potentially make a living from it as well), and exclusive copyright in perpetuity (we don't live...or create...perpetually...).

 

We, at least in our loftiest moments, don't make kings or royalty here in the US, so the idea that heirs and corporations (with no heirs) can exclusively profit from a work that they had no role in creating is fairly extreme, and probably has gone too far. I don't think anyone would think that Jimi's direct heirs wouldn't be the best caretakers of his art, but his grandchildren? or theirs? I do think that it's apalling that the Disney corporation seems to be gaming the system to keep the rights to Cinderella, Snow White, and Winnie the Pooh in perpetuity, when these works were based on the works of others or works previously in the public domain - and there's really no Disney left at Disney.

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Originally posted by doug osborne:

Of course we would think something of it.

Assuming anyone actually noticed. Do you care who holds the patents for most of the things around you? Elevators and lawn sprinklers and so on... Most people don't.

 

 

Originally posted by doug osborne:

We, at least in our loftiest moments, don't make kings or royalty here in the US, so the idea that heirs and corporations (with no heirs) can exclusively profit from a work that they had no role in creating is fairly extreme, and probably has gone too far.

Rubbish. You wouldn't think it was strange if someone inherited a lot of shares and yet the heir would be profiting from a work that they had no part in creating either. And it happens all the time and nobody finds it extreme. :)

 

 

 

 

Originally posted by doug osborne:

I don't think anyone would think that Jimi's direct heirs wouldn't be the best caretakers of his art, but his grandchildren? or theirs?

Why not? I'm not pretending to be better at safeguarding Jimi's legacy that a bunch of latter day Hendrixes. No reason why they wouldn't be ok at it though. Would Hendrix himself have sold "Little Wing" to advertise BMWs? Who knows.

 

 

Originally posted by doug osborne:

I do think that it's apalling that the Disney corporation seems to be gaming the system to keep the rights to Cinderella, Snow White, and Winnie the Pooh in perpetuity, when these works were based on the works of others or works previously in the public domain

Those works are STILL in the public domain. All that is copyrighted is the Disney version of the characters. That's why there's dozens of Cinderella and Snow White knock offs out there. And dozens of illustrated versions of Pinocchio and so on.
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Originally posted by fantasticsound:

Actually, though no one knows what he will eventally do, Bill Gates has stated he intends to kick the little Gates' out of the nest to fend for themselves. Bill does not intend to leave his fortune to his heirs.

More accurately, he plans to leave only 5% of his fortune to his children, the rest goes to charity. That 5% is more than most of us or our children will ever see.
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From an article in the CS Monitor....

(snip)

In 1790, "limited times" meant no more than 28 years. By 1976, Congress had increased copyright coverage to extend over the lifetime of the author plus an extra 50 years. And then in 1998, Congress extended copyright coverage again by 20 more years.

 

 

But as I said earlier there are exceptions.

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Originally posted by jackpine:

And this extension was retroactive.

Retroactive? THAT must have been messy... in other words if you had, quite legally, used something that had recently come into the public domain you would have been fined and your work outlawed????

 

That really sucks, as do all retroactive laws.

 

How can you turn around and tell people "Hey, you know that perfectly legal thing you did 10 years ago? Well, you're under arrest for it."

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by jackpine:

And this extension was retroactive.

Retroactive? THAT must have been messy... in other words if you had, quite legally, used something that had recently come into the public domain you would have been fined and your work outlawed????

 

That really sucks, as do all retroactive laws.

 

How can you turn around and tell people "Hey, you know that perfectly legal thing you did 10 years ago? Well, you're under arrest for it."

It is common law in america, that those who had such copyrights would be "grandfatehred in" according to the previous criteria, but would be prohibited from any such subsequent law
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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by Caputo:

It is common law in america, that those who had such copyrights would be "grandfatehred in"...

Sorry, I'm not familiar with the term. Can you give me an example?
Grandfathering is a practice where if some change is made to the law regulating something, the people who were already doing something that is governed by the new regulations are generally exempt from those new regulations.

 

An example would be that a city passes an ordinance that prohibits fences in front of houses from being painted blue. Grandfathering means that no fences can be painted blue that are not already blue. Fences that are already blue can be repainted in the same color. They are "grandfathered" in.

 

The US Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws. Meaning you cannot make a law that is retroactive and have it pass constitutional muster.

 

The change to copyright law wasn't actually retroactive. Copyrights that had already expired were not extended and could not be legally. But copyrights that were obtained under the old law had their period extended to the full length allowed by the new law.

 

The application of copyrights in the US courts has a rather checkered past and has caused no end of headaches to people who have used material thought to be in the public domain only to later find that the author wanted copyright protection but did nothing initially to secure it.

Born on the Bayou

 

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Originally posted by LPCustom:

Did you know that the song "Happy Birthday To You" is copyrighted? And the copyright will not expire until 2062. It brings in about 2 million dollars a year to Warner Brothers.

How do they collect the royalties? I don't ever recall paying license fees to sing at birthday parties...

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Picker:

Originally posted by LPCustom:

Did you know that the song "Happy Birthday To You" is copyrighted? And the copyright will not expire until 2062. It brings in about 2 million dollars a year to Warner Brothers.

How do they collect the royalties? I don't ever recall paying license fees to sing at birthday parties...
Individuals are exempt from paying the fees. They collect on "public performance" fees where anyone paid to sing it has to pay the royalty. That's why most restaurants now don't sing that song. They would have to pay the royalty which is, I think, about a dollar for most restaurants. They also collect whenever it gets used in movies and in plays. Any time someone plays or performs it for a paying audience, even if it is incidental to the performance.

Born on the Bayou

 

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