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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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November 27, 2006

No "Sergeant Pepper" Law in the UK?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Ars Technica is blurbing a BBC story that pre-leaks some results from the UK's Gowers Review. This review is actually a commission set up to suggest reforms to the UK's Intellectual Property laws. One of the big issues before the review is the length of copyrights for sound recordings. Currently that's 50 years, but there have been pushes for longer terms such as 95 years or life-plus-70.

The pushes have come from big names, including the U2's Bono and the British Library, but if the leak is true then it appears Gowers will reject these proposals. What that would mean is that the first of the Beatles' music would enter the public domain in the UK in 2012 or thereabouts. It would not be public domain in the US because of recent term extensions here (the so-called Mickey Mouse law) and part of the push on UK laws has been to "harmonize" them with the US laws.

As Nate Anderson points out in the Ars piece, "harmonization" has been a remarkably one-way process in the past, with the nod always going to the more restrictive set of rules. Thus, Bono et al might have been hoping for a Parliamentary Sgt Pepper act to extend ther monopolies. They may get it anyway, since Gowers is a recommending body, not a legislating one. Or maybe the public domain will win one.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations


COMMENTS

1. Nathan Jones on November 27, 2006 7:58 PM writes...

Why would a library be pushing for term extensions?

Permalink to Comment

2. drwex on December 4, 2006 11:05 AM writes...

That's a really good question, and I have no idea what the answer is.

Permalink to Comment

3. Branko Collin on December 6, 2006 4:39 AM writes...

Why do my comments get eaten?

Permalink to Comment

4. Branko Collin on December 6, 2006 5:08 AM writes...

OK, one more time. UK law dead in water. EU law trumps it. See EC 93/98/EEC.

Permalink to Comment

5. Branko Collin on December 6, 2006 10:59 AM writes...

BTW, Alan, did you get my e-mail?

Permalink to Comment

6. Anonymous on December 11, 2006 4:33 PM writes...

Your comments get eaten because the hardware supporting Copyfight is old and cranky and we have neither money nor personnel to fix/upgrade them. I did get your email, thank you.

Permalink to Comment

7. Branko Collin on December 14, 2006 4:20 AM writes...

One of the early proponents of a recording rights extension was, as you may know, Cliff Richard. This UK giant never wrote many songs, but recorded a lot. The first of those, Move It, was recorded in 1958, and was a song written by Ian Samwell. You can see why Cliff Richard wants mo' recording rights.

Interestingly, Wikipedia writes about that year: "In the summer of 1958 Cliff obtained a recording contract with EMI for himself only, leaving the band behind. He remained with this label until signing with Decca in 2004. As the Drifters faded away, Cliff and the Shadows would become contractually separate entities, and the group would not receive any performer royalties for the records they made backing Cliff."

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