15 February 2008

Sounds great when you're dead

The Commission has published proposals to surrender to the record
companies over the duration of copyright protection in sound
recordings, the IPKat reports. Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, who
seems to have swallowed the record industry's line together with the
hook and the sinker, says performing artists should no longer be the
'poor cousins' of the music business. (He Commission is proposing an
increase in the term of copyright for sound recordings from 50 to 95
years. The Commission's press release issued yesterday quotes him as saying:
"I strongly believe that copyright protection for Europe's performers
represents a moral right to control the use of their work and earn a
living from their performances. I have not seen a convincing reason
why a composer of music should benefit from a term of copyright which
extends to the composer's life and 70 years beyond, while the
performer should only enjoy 50 years, often not even covering his
lifetime It is the performer who gives life to the composition and
while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song - we can
usually name the performer."
What rubbish. As I write, I'm listening to a song the writer of which
probably half the population of Europe (and even more in the US) could
name. On this recording he's singing it too - not to everybody's
taste: "nobody sings Dylan like Dylan" is at best rife with ambiguity.
And the original recording of The Times they are a'Changing isn't far
off its 50th anniversary.
I've also managed to cite as an example a non-European performer,
although given where the pressure for change comes from it's
inconceivable that Bob and his countrymen - Elvis is of course the
paradigm case - won't benefit.
More difficult is working out what is my favourite song. If I could
identify it, I'm sure I could tell you who wrote it - Walter & Davis,
probably, perhaps James Warren, or even Smegmakovitch or Wabadaw
Sleeve. But for the title to this posting Robyn Hitchcock wrote just the right song.

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