bestkungfu weblog

The silent majority view on copyright

Filed in: music, rights, Wed, Apr 13 2005 09:03 PT

Sometimes, you just have to look at the numbers. A debate on the BBC News site pits the chairman of the British Phonographic Institute against an industry critic on the subject of extending the UK’s 50-year copyright on sound recordings. What’s interesting isn’t necessarily the arguments made, as anyone familiar will have heard them already, but the reader commentary.

Out of 47 comments on the debate, four favored the record labels’ position in some way. The rest ranged from good-natured, subtle British cynicism to pure vitriol at what is perceived as greed on the part of the recording industry. That’s almost 11 to 1 against extending copyright. And sure, that’s a self-selecting sample, but I’m not sure that’s really that far off. Who would defend an extended copyright lifetime, aside from content owners? There is no societal benefit to that position that I can think of — not even a trickle-down effect to other rightsholders.

Which leads to the next question: why aren’t more people up in arms over this? I have to guess that it’s that very few people are aware of the existence of the public domain, which is unfortunate, since we in the US haven’t seen works pass into the public domain in almost 80 years. Or it could be that there hasn’t been much thought about who makes the money from music licensing, and how. I think that’s quite likely. I also believe that this debate is going to keep progressing in both the US and Europe, and that for every ten people who are introduced to it, nine are going to come to our side. Eventually, if that holds, we’ll get to the tipping point where the voting constituencies of policymakers get more attention than the lobbyists pushing this kind of stuff.

One response to “The silent majority view on copyright”

  1. doc says:

    I think it is just that people don’t care, and are too busy with other things to be bothered by investigating it. It’s that way with a lot of things. Why does anyone use IE when they could be using Firefox? Ask those silent masses about Firefox and more than likely they won’t even know what you are talking about. Kind of like what is happening with the broadcast flag, or radio being sold down the river by the changes in ownership regulations. Or ACCS. I agree with you that if that silent majority could be made aware of these things, the vast majority would fall on our side of it. I just don’t know how to go about informing them.

Powered by WordPress (RSS 2.0, Atom)