Copyright = 5 years?

Andrew Dubber, New Music Strategies blogger, has a lot of folks riled up about copyright— including me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t send some readers his way; the conversation has been fantastically interesting. His idea? Make copyright an opt-in process, with a 5-year timeout, followed by the option to renew. Dubber hopes the renewal process will lead to a greater percentage of works entering the public domain… I just think its going to result in another enormous bureaucratic clusterfuck mis-managing artists’ rights.

I found this hanging outside WDBX. Either the tree lost its pants, or someone lynched a member of Dokken.

I found this hanging outside WDBX. Either the tree lost its pants, or someone lynched a member of Dokken.

In truth, I’m still not exactly certain where I stand with copyright. It seems to me that copyright and art don’t really go together all that well anyway– art and commerce ultimately have very different goals. If I was a businessman, I could definitely understand the value in hoarding everything of any possible use forever. As an artist, I’ve often given things away for free, or at least encouraged their dissemination. Can these be reconciled?

The fear underlying most copyright decisions (or so it seems to me) is that if a big-name artist’s work wasn’t protected, it could be sold out from under their noses by unscrupulous businessmen, de-valuing their work by making it more freely and cheaply available. But hey, isn’t this already happening? As I type this, a quick torrent search reveals more than one Radiohead discography available right now. One has 33 separate albums, in lossless format, and even features scans of some booklets and liner notes!

Yet Radiohead carries on. I’ve yet to see Johnny Greenwood flipping burgers.

Granted, they might have made a lot of their money before such widespread filesharing came into practice. What about newer artists? Honestly, I have no idea. In some ways, I’m just sort of waiting to see how it plays out. My hope is that the ubiquitous availability of any sort of information, at any time, will de-value ownership itself. I know that I have downloaded songs just to avoid the walk downstairs to retrieve the actual record. I’ve downloaded albums I already own to more easily make a copy for my daughter– the de-valuation of ownership is underway.

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One Response to “Copyright = 5 years?”

  1. Sonney of MySpace Says:

    — Dear Pete Townshend,

    PLEASE forgive me Pete !!! —

    Yeah it’s a blur, and if I was an Artist I’d be pissed.

    I’ve always heard that “The Real Money” was in touring, but holy shit let’s have a little heart for the Artists, damn-it.

    Now-a-days I gotta REALLY wonder if Bruce Springsteene’s “The River”
    and “Born In The USA” albums would’ve sold much at all (His last albums of any note.).
    ‘Course ole Bruce and the E-Street band are all millionaires because of the many high ticked $priced$ tours, but that’s REALLY not our business, now
    is it DaveX?

    I’m nuts about the Who, but I only payed 99 cents for their “Who’s Next” album at the Salvation Army. And I hardly listen to that anymore… preferring to watch the Who in concert videos for free on YouTube. And when you get down to it that’s Gold Metal stuff, and technically the Who’s property, that is unless they were payed a $gazillion$ to sign away their concert video images.

    My internet fee is $47/month to AOL/Version… so, ummmm, that’s what I pay, but it don’t go to Artists, I’m sure.

    I’m not of the Tech-Age and have a “Burner” or music download devices, but I fear if I was I’d make allowances to myself.

    Any hey DaveX, if you burn your kid a CD of the “Who’s Next” CD… well, at least demand that she keep it stored in the classic “Monolith” LP Album jacket, okay? Some things MUST remain sacred!

    –Sonney

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