December 8, 2006  ·  Lessig

For almost 10 years now, I’ve been waging a war against retrospective term extension. My simple argument has been that copyright is about creative incentives, and you can’t create incentives retrospectively.

I now see I am apparently wrong.

As reported yesterday, there was an ad in the FT listing 4,000 musicians who supported retrospective term extension. If you read the list, you’ll see that at least some of these artists are apparently dead (e.g. Lonnie Donegan, died 4th November 2002; Freddie Garrity, died 20th May 2006). I take it the ability of these dead authors to sign a petition asking for their copyright terms to be extended can only mean that even after death, term extension continues to inspire.

I’m not yet sure how. But I guess I should be a good sport about it, and just confess I was wrong. For if artists can sign petitions after they’ve died, then why can’t they produce new recordings fifty years ago?

  • http://gnuosphere.blogspot.com Peter Rock

    Yes Larry, you underestimate the influence those beyond this life can exert. Dead people don’t like it when proprietary software is threatened either, and will do what they can to fight back from the grave.

    • http://www.mosta2bal.com Egyptian

      Good comment :)

  • http://www.sussex.ac.uk/mediastudies/profile125219.html David Berry

    It rather reminded me of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on 6 September 1789 in which he wrote: “I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it…”

  • http://blogs.sun.com/blu Brian Utterback

    Larry, I am still with you on this. I think it is quite a bit more difficult to create things retroactively than to continue to exist after death. In addition to the obvious “power of attorney” and executor methods, there are thousands of psychics that show that the intentions of the dead can be known. On the other hand, the only author that I have ever noticed being more prolific after death than before in his chosen genre is L. Ron Hubbard, who, even if we discount the “L. Ron Hubbard Presents” series, still has managed to produce quite a stockpile of SciFi since his death.

  • http://blogs.s60.com/tommi Tommi Vilkamo

    > For if artists can sign petitions after they’ve died, then why can’t they produce new recordings fifty year ago?

    Sometimes they can: Jimi Hendrix released substantially more recordings after his death than during his lifetime :-)

  • three blind mice

    My simple argument has been that copyright is about creative incentives, and you can’t create incentives retrospectively.

    and a simple argument it is.

    the simple reply is that retroactive extension is, and can only be, a forward looking incentive. extending the copyright term increases the net present value of all copyrighted work thus providing an increased incentive for the creation of new and original works.

    whilst this may be a tenuous assertion – incentives are often a matter of economic fiction – the notion of increased NPV seems less economic fiction than the idea that one increases the incentive for new and original works by promoting the premature expiration of the copyright for existing works.

  • http://www.openrightsgroup.org Suw

    I shall look forward to entirely new albums from Elvis soon then, not to mention Beethoven, Jimi and Cliff. Oh, wait, Cliff’s not dead yet, it’s just his holiday mansion that’s in mortal danger.

    Hopefully, we’ll get a copy of the FT ad up on Flickr soon, (one ORG member is going to scan it for us) and then we can collectively check it to see if any other dead people are speaking to us from beyond the grave.

    • http://www.mosta2bal.com Egyptian

      So cute has good comments

  • Flotsam

    Credibility has just left the building.

    • http://www.nmisr.com/ Egypt

      hehe nice comment !

      • http://www.mosta2bal.com Egyptian

        hehehehe nice comment of comment :D

  • Richard L. G.

    to bad when the Musicindustry trainee just copy the list of catalog artist as “signups” without checking if they are still alive!
    +oops+

  • http://greedwatch.wordpress.com/ GreedWatch

    A new definition of “dead wrong”. This has made my day, thank you.

  • Lessig

    3bm:
    you can create that incentive (however tiny it is) by extending the term prospectively, in the way copyright typically works. It typically says – “in exchange for a creative work, we give you a term of protection.” This extension gives you the protection whether or not you create any new creative work.

    The two quibble that are valid but limited quibbles are (1) the value of deriviative rights, and (2) the husbanding exception. But the former is tiny because any derivative gets its own copyright; and the latter is never offered as anything really substantial.

  • http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/bonobo-conspiracy/ Matthew Skala

    Looks like a good subject for a cartoon. I’ll post this officially tomorrow, but here’s a preview:

    BoCon #457

  • three blind mice

    It typically says – “in exchange for a creative work, we give you a term of protection.” This extension gives you the protection whether or not you create any new creative work.

    it seems to us that copyright is fundamentally an economic incentive where the government says “in exchange for a creative work, we will give you ECONOMIC POWER to exploit it.” the term of copyright protection is simply the means by which the economic incentive is realized.

    increasing the term post facto of course does not change the conditions at the time of creation. what it does is change are the conditions for future creations. a longer copyright term increases the NPV of works already producing revenue and expected to continue to do so.

    times change, economics change, terms should change with them. in an era of declining revenue for artists (caused at least in part by the same machine with the tail) does it not make sense for the government to take affirmative steps to increase the value of these assets?

    why shouldn’t the goverment seek to maximize this particular economic incentive? is this not particularly appropriate for a government which has a constitutional mandate to provide said incentive? why must this be a fixed term? indeed when the economic conditions change, why shouldn’t the term change accordingly?

    is it not obvious that the “long tail” that gives economic power to independent, obscure artists also gives sustaining economic power the the beatles catalogue?

    it seems to us a rational economic policy.

    • http://www.mosta2bal.com Egyptian

      oh my god long comment :( i can’t read all

  • amused

    Is there a list of all the artists who signed the extension advert? Is there a copy of the advert on the web somewhere?

  • http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/bonobo-conspiracy/ Matthew Skala

    three blind mice: The government should not seek to maximise the economic incentive of copyright, because that incentive has a high cost. Copyright limits the creation of new works (because artists can’t use existing material) and the preservation of old (because copyright holders are the only ones who can preserve the works, and it may not be in their interest to do so). So when you extend copyright terms, you gain on one side and lose on another. It’s reasonable to suppose that there would be a unique amount of copyright that is the best trade-off between advantages and disadvantages, and that that ideal amount would not be “infinite”.

    The argument today is that current copyright terms are in fact already far longer than they should be, and extending them further provides almost no gain, at an unacceptably high cost.

  • http://drewthaler.blogspot.com/ Drew Thaler

    I’m curious how that happened. Did some corporation just “sign” the names of every artist they managed to trick into signing away their power of attorney? Or is the list just utter BS through and through?

  • crf

    I bet John Edward isn’t happy the music lables are cutting into his racket.

  • http://leonfelipe.org Leon Felipe Sanchez

    As you might know copyright law in Mexico protects the work for the life of the author and 100 years after his/her dead. So as we say in Mexico, copyright law and its protection are doing far more for the death than for the living.
    Aplying the law retrospectively against anyone is prohibited by the Mexican Constitution so this should be a great point to start a debate because while it “benefits authors” it works against society.

  • John S.

    Mice:

    I’m really trying to understand your position but I’m not sure I follow. How does extending an existing term create an incentive for future works? Sure, it increases the benefits to the creators. That’s not the issue. The only explanation I can think of is something like sending this general message to future creators: “When your copyright is about to expire, we might extend yours too, because as a general policy we adapt the term to what we think the conditions of the times require.” If future creators see this current extension as a sign that the terms on their future works may end up even longer than they expect, this could be an incentive.

    Also, granted “limited” != “fixed” – but as to why a fixed term, do you think the constitution is irrelevant?

  • Greg Rosston

    Gives new meaning to “The Grateful Dead”

  • http://epeus.blogspot.com Kevin Marks
  • Alienluvchild

    The only benefit that I see to extending copyright terms is to the families, et al of the the original copyright holder. Expanding on that premise, the only benefit I can see is purely financial. Not many descendants of original copyright holders have created “future works” So the whole argument is just a load of crap. I’m a musician and I have absolutely NO problem with the terms as they are today. I’ve been inspired by my forebearers, and I hope to inspire others someday. Extension for monetary benefit, particularily to the offspring of the originator is something that I find repugnant.

  • whoodoo

    If I reasonable expecation that the term on works I create today will be retroactively extended, then I have greater incentive today than if I believe term will not be retroactively extended. Therefore, retroactive extension amplifies the apparent term, and hence incentive, to create new work.

  • whoodoo

    Let me try that again:

    Suppose I believe that the copywrite term guaranteed today has some chance to be retractively increased in the future. Then I should believe that work I create tomorrow will end up being protected longer than the term guaranteed when I create it. Thus, If I observe a retractive increase today my incentive to create tomorrow should be surprisingly increased…because whatever the new term is I will think the actual term is going to be made even greater by a retroactive increase later.

  • http://www,savory.de/blog.htm Stu Savory

    Could it merely be that it has taken so long to get 4000 names together, that those persons were alive when they signed ;-) ?

  • David Rodgers

    Here’s an example of how it stifles creativity. There must be millions of bands that never bothered to become ‘One-Hit-Wonders’ because they could look only milk it for 50 years. Letting artists rely on one song for 90 years will provide that extra incentive they need to be creative.

  • Donald Chump

    Get real. Nobody in earth is more inspired to create anything if the copyright expires 2000 years after death instead of 200 or 20 years. Corporations and descendants might like to milk the .001% of works that still can generate money a century after creation, but it doesn’t give the creators any more inspiration or motivation.

    To put it another way: suppose artists could choose between a fixed 75 years or life + 100 years of copyright, with the difference being that they have to pay an up-front fee for the longer term but the 75 years is free. I doubt there would be many who would even pay $1000.

  • Koz

    Based on the idea that terms should change as ecconomics change why is the conclusion always that copyright terms should be extended ? : it should also be possible to argue when copyrights terms should be reduced, and since currently the ecconomics are changing largly as a result of advances in technology, it follows that extendiing copyright terms to resist technology reduces the motivation to continue technological advance, and it’s pretty obvious that the general public doesn’t benefit from that.

  • Zeth

    I believe that the advert was misleading, since some of the signatories are in fact dead.

    I made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority by using this handy online form:
    http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/how_to_complain/complaints_form/

    We will see if they reply.

  • Anonymous

    Did the FT advert say “Lonnie Donegan” or simply “L. Donegan”? Because there was also a Lawrence Donegan, bass guitarist with a couple of well-known (if second-rate) UK bands in the 80s, and presumably still alive and kicking. Last seen working as a minor journalist on the Guardian newspaper in the UK. Not that the P2P crowd would care, but he could probably use the royalties.

  • http://www.a4fs.net/blog Matt c

    There is a legitimate argument for retroactive copyright extensions (which I oppose, btw). It’s here: http://a4fs.net/blog/?p=5

    Summary: It is quite feasible to imagine that some works are created that would not be if there were no possibility of retroactive term extensions. If an artists is “almost” willing to write/paint/etc. something, the possibility that her copyright will be extended later might be the “tipping point”.

    As pointed out in the blog, this is just a logical exercise. I personally believe copyrights are far, far too long and “incentivizing” art is best done through other means

  • Peets

    I’m surprised nobody has observed that that the recipients of this extension are obviously making a killing :-)

    It’s plain vanilla greed, but of the most obnoxious shortsighted kind. And they have the money to buy this change.

  • tacet

    This issue is confusing by it’s nature, and many people (myself included) get confused with the rights of the author and publisher.

    The Patent Office web site says :

    “Copyright exists in your original music composition or score for your life plus 70 years from the end of the year of your death. The same length of time applies for the lyrics, whereas the sound recording only lasts for 50 years from the end of the year in which it was made or, if published in this time, 50 years from the end of the year of publication. If not published during that 50 year period, but it is played in public or communicated to the public during that period, then copyright will last for 50 years from when this happens.”

    My question would be : who benefits from an extension of the current 50 year part of the deal? It’s not the author because they’re already have 70 years after death “life span”.

  • http://podcast.com Kosso

    Brilliant!!! And LOL@ The Grateful Dead comment!

  • bilbous

    How come all we ever hear about is the rights of the copyright merchants? As far as I am concerned copyright is a privilege granted by the state. What happened to the concept of privileges entailing responsibilities. I say publish or perish. If you can’t keep that book on the market in this digital day you have no right to keep it from the public domain. The other media, movies, sound recordings, etc. … make it available or lose your ‘rights’.

  • http://blog.russnelson.com Russell Nelson

    Three blind mice: The incentive that *retroactively* extending copyright brings to new copyright holders is the idea that, when *their* copyright is about to expire, it will also be extended. In other words, you are arguing for infinite copyright extension.

    If, instead, you wish to argue that new copyright holders will have a greater incentive, it can only be by lengthening the term of new copyright registrations.

    There is substantial public benefit to be had from copyright expiration. Don’t try to argue that the public has a greater benefit from copyrights never expiring — which is the current direction we’re heading.

  • Vegetable Man

    In reply to the point about ‘L.Donegan’. The advert clearly states ‘Lonnie Donegan’ and ‘Freddie Garrity’. As Lonnie died in 2002 I don’t think that there is any credibility in a claim that his permission was aquired before he died. If their estates signed the advert then it should have read ‘The Estate of…’. There are other signatories to the advert who have legitimately signed on behalf of their deceased relatives. For example Gabrielle Drake’s name appears, which is presumably on behalf of the estate of her brother Nick Drake.

    There may well be other deceased signatories to the petition but Lonnie and Freddie are the most obvious.

    For anyone in the UK interested in making a complaint to the ASA (great idea Zeth) the advert appeared on page 19 of the Thursday 7th December edition of the FT.

  • Rurik Christiansen

    The brutal truth as I see it:

    At the highest level (most of) the law is just a formal expression of the fight, power and compromise between various groups within the society.

    The “creating incentive” and “benefits” argument is just something to make us feel good when going home.

    The’ve used dead authors ? Well, if it works …

  • tacet

    Having read lots of other related articles about this subject and having pondered on it for most of the day, I still don’t understand the motivation of an “author” (70 years from death remember) putting their name to this (95 years from last recording), other than sheer greed. This is not a union of “concerned impoverished composers and authors” in need of money – let’s face it.

    It’s a travesty these artists aren’t as visionary as they’d like to think. Particularly the younger bands who should really have a clue; take the money and be glad to be remembered and built into the very fabric of society.

    As a contributor to Creative Commons music I have an interest in all this. An extended term may even have a beneficial impact on “free” (as in chains) music, getting paid is nice and all, but really it’s about being heard.

  • C S Lewiston

    Just imagine – an army of zombies, contracts subpoenas in their rotting, undead hands…Where is George Romero when we need him?

  • Frank

    Well, I won’t comment on the obvious lack of credibility involved in dead signatories.

    What I will say is there is a legitimate argument for extending copyrights retroactively: limiting the public domain. it’s possible that, if enough art can be had for free, there is less incentive to make new art. I.e., what price will the market bear if suitable replacements can be had for free? Also, consider the cost of creation. If the public domain is sufficiently large, artists can just re-use rather than invest in new creation (e.g., re-mixes instead of wholly original works). By keeping some art out of the public domain, you (1) increase the expcted return of new art, thus increasing incentives; and (2) maintain a high appropriation cost for using old art, so that this cost maintains parity with the cost of creation.

    Now, I don’t think these arguments are very strong, and I’m definitely not convinced that the costs of a diminished public domain are outweighed by any of these speculative gains, but I just wanted to point out that the argument is not completely absurd.

  • Neo Artist

    In theory, the incentive is that by increasing Net Present Value, the author/composer/artist would be able to license their work for more money, now. Of course, as someone else pointed out, only a tiny fraction of 1% of works are worth anything after a few decades (probably really only a few years), so the publishers won’t actualy pay any more for new works.

    Thus, copyright extension really only benefits the publishing companies (and a few really big authors/composers/artists).

    Likely some will say “So what?” My response is: How many works are truly original and not, in some way/shape/form, a derivitive of one or more other works?

    Maybe not now, but it’s only a matter of time before the lawyers are demanding that everyone who writes/composes/performs anything pay royalties as derivitive works of somebody else’s work(s).

  • http://yngve.bravehost.com A.R.Yngve

    “One of the dead musicians was asked for a comment on his ‘undead’ signature in the FT ad, and had only this to say: ‘Braaaains…’

    “One of the recording-industry execs behind the FT ad was also asked for a comment on the ‘undead’ signatures, and said:
    ‘Braaaaains!’”

    (*SATIRE*)

  • Micky

    Regarding Frank’s last comment, I’d just like to point out that with a large public domain, the public may indeed have less of a desire for new works, and I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.
    If people are content with existing, public-domain works, and don’t care to pay for new stuff, then who are we to tell them that the old stuff should be expensive just so that the new stuff would not seem as expensive as it otherwise would? Let them have their old music!

    Music isn’t like scientific research. There’s no obious public public good in promoting its creation beyond what people are willing to individually finance.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    Don’t forget everyone, if the government reneges on the social contract it made on our behalf by extending its term, it can renege on it later by reducing its term.

    Extension would demonstrate that copyright isn’t worth the paper it’s written on – in so many more ways than one.

  • http://movingnorth.blogspot.com John

    I think that the true answer to hideous nature of IP laws is to give them a dose of reality, to wit:

    A primary argument among IP holders is that IP is “no different” than real property. Okay, let’s go with that for a second – there’s not a place in the US where I can go and own significant real property, like a house, and not have to pay property taxes.

    Let’s subject IP to property tax.

    This gives a legitimate excuse for governments to move from the “can’t be bothered to mess with the small but vocal public domain” crowd to “hey, we can make some money here.”

    A company like Disney would have to pay for any IP that they intend to keep forever. If it’s worth a billion or so a year to keep Mickey their IP, well, they’ll do it. Perhaps if the price of the tax continually escalated it would give them incentive to let it go public. If not at least it would go toward the public good.

    A corrolary would be that unpaid for IP (you get a tax exemption for a certain period) becomes public domain. This would make sense as a federal tax, so there could be a searchable database to see if the book from 1943 is available for you to use in whatever sense you’d like.

    This would apply to all IP.

    I don’t like big government. I don’t like taxes. If IP is like real property, though, let’s give government an incentive to help us get the vast majority of it thrown to the public domain. Regardless of if dead people want to keep it IP.

    Oh, I just want credit for this idea. :)

  • Kemalo

    To me, the arguments about giving an extension will give incentive to create new work is complete and utter rubbish, all it does is give the rights owners (very rarely is this held by the actual artist) an extension to their monopoly.

    The vast majority of artists motivation comes from the love of music and the enjoyment of what they do, the money is not and never was a motivating factor. If Copyright lasted only 6 weeks, we would still have had artists like Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley.
    The only difference copyright makes is that a successful artist will earn enough to enable them to concentrate full time on their music rather than having to hold down another job to pay the bills and create music in their spare time.
    If someone cannot make enough money from a monopoly that lasts 50 years then surely they need to look at their own financial managment skills rather than looking toward legislation to bail them out.

    ‘Copyright is a monopoly and monopolies are evil. To remunerate an author we must succumb to the evil but for not a moment longer than is absolutely necessary’
    (Lord) Thomas Babingto Macauley. in 1841.

  • Expodanza

    Well I don’t see why that seems so odd to you. I mean, if Gunpei Yokoi can create his ‘puzzling masterpeice’ nine years after his death, everyone else should be capable of at least signing a name.

  • Jennifer

    Forever copyright isn’t incentive. Incentive is needing to eat, and knowing you can ‘t milk one work forever is the biggest incentive there is..like the saying goes, it’s the hungry cat that hunts.

  • http://www.baum.com.au/~jiri/ae/blog sabik

    “Braaaains”? Hardly!

    It’s all about the gaaaains of keeping music in chaaaains.

    The downside, of course, is that everyone else abstaaaains, ahem, abstains from creating for fear of being sued by zombies. Basically, in purely utilitarian terms, it comes down to the balance of creation encouraged (by economic returns) and discouraged (by the costs of copyright compliance).

    η

  • Dave

    Devil’s advocate: what if extending term of protection for existing works is itself creating incentives for new works? Imagine I buy new works only because everything is locked up- as if when I’m given the choice of paying for Elvis/Salinger/whatever or something new, I choose something new- but if the old works were public domain, I’d support nothing new.

    Honestly, I think there may be some merit to this position, and that it needs to be handled to win the argument that you can’t create incentives by looking backward.

  • Rick

    Um, the add was “placed on behalf of more than 3,500 record companies and 40,000 performers.” As far as I can tell from the various articles Google returned, there’s no claim the artists signed anything.

    So, the ad could have meant they supported copyright extension before they died, or that their estate supports it. That is, I go around saying “Copyrights expire too soon, we should extend them!”, then I die, and someone takes out an add saying “Rick supported copyright extension.”

    I don’t agree with what they’re doing, it’s misleading. But that’s not the same as “dead authors [signing] a petition.” Don’t let people dismiss your articles by using the same fuzzy logic as those you oppose.

  • http://notcatweazle.wordpress.com Wesley Parish

    Funny. I thought the only thing dead musicians were capable of was decomposing. Apparently, according to this ad, there are people out there who’ll buy decompositions from these musicians … takes all kinds, takes one to know one!

    And talk about incentives! I was advised to be careful about taking out life insurance, because the incentives it might create could be wrong. These companies are creating an incentive for them to murder their musicians, once they have made a hit. It’s crying out for Tarantino to do something typically Tarantinoish. Or Clive Barker …

  • http://notcatweazle.wordpress.com Wesley Parish

    It just occurred to me that this is a radically new interpretation of “grass-roots”. It must be the first time that these organizations and companies have had grass roots support.

    What sort of taxes does one pay if one’s primary employment is pushing up daisies? Or is that tax-deductable? If one is dead and decomposing music as a hobby, does that get taxed? Is there entertainment tax on dead musicians decomposing music? Or is it tax-exempt?

    All these sorts of questions must be answered. Enquiring minds want to know!

  • john Foster

    unDead people have been voting for years. So it’s perfectly okay that the dead would want copyright extensions too.

  • tacet

    Remember, copyright was originally setup with the intention of being a short term monopoly to give the rights holder a fair chance to make money. This of course was back in the day of paper-based publishing, well before the advent of TV and internet. When it took years to produce and distribute materials globally. Nowadays production time is minimal, and speed of distribution is as long as it takes to get your message onto the right blogs, or get featured on iTunes. It seems to me the term of the monopoly is now far too long, not too short, in the modern environment.

    True “art” isn’t about money, so it’s wrong to assume all artists will continue to choose to be part of the circus.

    Sadly there’s no opposition to the undead signing petitions, or is there? “Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.” – John Lennon

  • ACS

    I hate to be the argumentative one here but the proposition that copyright is about creative incentives, and you can’t create incentives retrospectively has a single flaw to it being one of fairness. It would be fine if copyright incentives were statitc but you find your self in a situation where a party that created a work five years ago would not recieve the same benefits as a person that creates a work today. On the other hand I can see the manifest problem with retrospective enlargement of rights. Of course, there is no easy road between these two governing factors but I am yet to see a reason why works of the past shouldnt recieve the same rights as the works of today – does not each copyright statute say that it replaces the one before it?? If so then a retrospective term extension would have to be achieved by introducing amendments to those statutes limiting the grant of rights to prior works – which they dont. If you have a problem with this then write to your congressman.

  • Erik

    The dead artists aside, could we get confirmation that any of the *living* artists on the list actually have signed it, or if it’s really just their record companies talking?

  • Ombilic Des Limbes

    “the simple reply is that retroactive extension is, and can only be, a forward looking incentive. extending the copyright term increases the net present value of all copyrighted work thus providing an increased incentive for the creation of new and original works.”

    Nonsense. The work that benefits from retroactive extension has already been created. That’s what “retroactive extension” means. Therefore, there’s no point to retroactive extension for past work: it’s not going to function as an incentive. You could argue that extending copyright on new works being produced would be an incentive for artists—though I also find that idea extremely tenuous.

  • http://www.openrightsgroup.org Suw Charman

    I have just blogged this:
    http://www.openrightsgroup.org/2006/12/12/i-see-dead-people/

    And put scans of the ad up on Flickr
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/suw/sets/72157594416637345/

    If anyone spots more dead people, please do add notes or comments to Flickr.

  • Bitsy

    I see “John Constable” listed– presumably they mean the John Constable the classical musician. So perhaps he is in favor of retroactive copyright extension, given that most of what he plays is by long-dead composers. Maybe he feels grateful and wants to “give back”?

  • JiggleBilly

    It would be nice if we could separate those who create art to express themselves and those who do it for money. I have two questions for nobody in particular:

    If you create art to express yourself, why should you get paid for how you feel?

    If you create art to make money, are you creating art or manufacturing a product?

  • Hal Ade

    I talked to an aquaintance of mine on the matter of copyright extension. Her view was that authors (composers included) often have families to support during their life, and that sometimes, financial returns don’t occur in any abundance until close to the death of the originator. She used as her argument, the author’s “starving children”, or if not starving, benefitting so little from their parent’s (parents’) work while the parent is living that they forgo ballet lessons, piano lessons, trips to ski resorts, including ski-lift services, which parents having handsome royalties from their authored works might have provided.

    So to make up for these deprivations during the author’s life, to her, it is perfectly fair that the author’s offspring, grand-children, great-grand-children, first cousins once, second, and thrice removed, favourite aunts and uncles, and assorted buddies and their offspring should benefit for up to “X” years after the originator’s passing.

    As you may tell by my attempt at cynicism, I do not completely hold to that view. I do feel that the author’s nuclear family should receive fair and reasonable post-mortem royalties if they have been deprived of good family incomes during the author’s life, because the parent has been busy authoring, and receiving “tick-all” for his/her authoring efforts.

    Other than that, if the author is dead, it is, under current electronic engineering technology, not possible to pay him/her royalties which he/she can use in his/her world. That, of course, may change with further advances in Quantum Electrodynamics Engineering for purposes of royalties transmission to the “spirit” world(s), in which case, the definition of “life” for copyright purposes, would become a moot point. We’re then left with the heirs beyond the author’s nuclear family, who, often with no psycho/spiritual bond with the author and his/her works, want their license/royalties money from the public anyway.

    By the way, does the Copyright Extension Act (the Sonny Bono Act) extend works for hire to life plus 95 years, or the greater of life plus 70, or a total of 95 years?

    Hal Ade
    Gatineau, QC

  • http://www.robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    It would be nice if we could separate those who create art to express themselves and those who do it for money.

    I don’t think it would. Expressing yourself costs money. Preventing people from recouping or offsetting costs makes expressing yourself a financial drain, one that in some cases will prevent the creation of work. Art becomes a White Elephant Economy. NC licensing has this negative effect, unless you are Napster.

    • http://www.mosta2bal.com Egyptian

      good man ty

  • 江 语涵

    Good idea, please continue to work hard!

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