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July 18, 2004
Rock and Roll Scheduled to Enter Public Domain in Europe Soon
Reuters is carrying a wonderful wirestory pointing out that many of Elvis' recordings will soon enter the public domain in Europe, and not long after that, many other rock and roll classics (European Copyright Clock Ticking on Elvis Hits):
If there are no changes in European copyright law, the track [Elvis Presley's That's All Right] will fall into public domain Jan. 1, 2005. Anyone will be able to release it without paying royalties to the owners of the master or the performer's heirs. BMG will start losing a significant piece of its catalog income in Europe.
As "That's All Right" is being hailed by some as the beginning of rock 'n' roll, the implications are that every year after 2005, more recordings that defined the genre will fall into public domain.
Of course, this has the European recording industry in a panic:
Jamieson [executive chairman of British Phonograph Industry] added, "The end of the sound recording copyright on the explosion of British popular music in the late '50s and '60s, not just the Beatles, but many other British artists, is only a short period away. If nothing is done they will suffer loss of income not just for their sales in the U.K. but their sales across the globe."
And Europeans should care about this, why? If the theory justifying copyright is an incentive one, all the artists and recording companies seem to have been properly incentivized. I can safely say that extending copyright for existing recordings is highly unlikely to incentivize the creation of more music in the 1950s and 60s, unless Austin Powers
can actually go back in time.
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