Copyright Reform: Updated

I sent my European Parliament members an email this morning about the EU extending copyright from the current term of copyright for sound recordings from 50 years to 95 years. The vote on this issue is going to be this Thursday.

Anyhow within today I got an email from both of my Liberal Democrat MEP’s today as well as from UKIP, all of whom agree with my position on the EU Copyright laws. From this I will definitely be voting Liberal Democrat in the next election.

The other amusing thing was that one of my Liberal Democrat MEP’s is a Baroness and she replied within minutes, I find it very interesting to see “establishment” figures like a Baroness agreeing with me politically here. Its actually like the Economist being pro-drugs legalisation. Now I agree about drugs legalisation for the same reasons that the Economist brings up, but regardless on your position it is definitely a liberal position to hold.

Amusingly if you read a more downmarket news source that the “common man” reads like the Daily Mail and the Sun they will be anti-drugs legalisation and much more right wing.

Anyhow I found out about this vote from Arstechnica, which led me to the following website. I personally thought the sample email given there is rubbish, so here is what I wrote instead:

I have heard that this week the European parliament is voting to extend
copyright terms for sound recordings. Personally I think this is a bad
idea as the terms are currently long enough.

I think this because independent studies including the UK governments
Gower report (
are opposed to this move. This information is covered on pages 49 to 57
of the report. The University of Cambridge has also collected a list of
other independent studies and their conclusions which is available at
the following link:

According to the Gower Report the life of the vast majority of creative
works is very short – only 3% of record company income comes from works
released before 1966. Additionally when the US considered extending the
copyright term beyond 50 years, 17 economists including 5 Nobel prize
winners estimated that extending copyright beyond 50 years would have
no affect on investment decisions on new works as the income was to be
received so far into the future.

The flaws in this bill especially apply to retrospective copyright as
in those cases the works in question have already been made under the
current rules, extending those copyrights isn’t going to make more
works magically appear in the past as that is impossible, all that is
going to be done is that a few already very rich artists and record
labels will be made even richer while providing no net benefit to the
average citizen as according to the Gower report less music would be
available to the consumer.

Updated: I have to also credit the Green party representatives for getting back to me within just over 24 hours.

Posted in Real Life and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Hey Matthew

    While I agree somewhat with your comment at Ars Technica:

    To be perfectly honest anyone criticising the EU for doing this who lives in the EU better have at least written or communicated with their MEP about this otherwise you don’t really have a leg to stand on.

    I’m not sure I understand you correctly. Pages 123-124 of the detailed report of the EP’s session on 2009-04-23 show clearly that the people (and even party) I voted for about 4 years ago, voted against the proposal. So don’t I have a leg to stand on or have I made the correct choice 4 years ago? Did you make the correct choice or didn’t the candidate of your choice get elected?


    PS This might have something to do with the hugely different ways voting works within the EU. We don’t have a the-one-with-the-most-votes-in-a-region-wins-and-the-others-get-nothing system. (Our system might be called “proportional”, but I’m not sure.)

    PPS My first try at a properly formatted WordPress comment …

  2. Maybe one additional remark:
    Any idea what would happen to sound recordings that were in the public domain (over 50 years old) but will not be anymore (under 70 years old)? And what happens to the people that are using them as such?

  3. I’ll reply in detail to this later, I have to go to work.

    But I can reply to your final comment:

    As I’m not a lawyer I really can’t say what the legal ramifications would be for continued use and this doesn’t constitute legal advice. However I’d imagine that you wouldn’t be able to use them anymore.

  4. BartX

    Now to reply to your first post. My Arstechnica post is probably being a little cocky and unfair.

    I suppose as you did vote for a candidate who voted the right way last time, then you do have a leg to stand on with regards to outrage on the position the parliament have taken. Though Arstechnica did have a post earlier in the week talking about this vote, so it seems to be reasonable to expect the readership – especially the commenting readership – to have taken the time to contact their EU representatives, and maybe that would have been enough to make a difference.

    The thing is that if noone (or very few people) lobby against changes like this but the record companies do, why shouldn’t they get their way? From the EU parliaments perspective they can assume that noone else really cares.

    PS Thanks for linking to the transcript, I’ll take a look at that to find out how my MEP’s voted.

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