Downsides of the expiry of copyright

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  • UncleLou Moderator 16 Jan 2013 11:24:31 35,508 posts
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    I buy a lot of music from the 1950s/1960s, and while I do not know enough about US copyright, it is obvious that it has expired for a lot of music from that era.

    That sounds great at first, until you start looking for albums. Whether on iTunes, eMuisc, Spotify, or whatnot, the market gets absolutely flooded with shit-sounding copies, or allegedly "rare" recordings which are just a copy of something that got oficially released years ago. Often, the original cover is used. Sometimes, the cover of a totally different album is used. Unless you're an expert who published what on which label and who is (or was) the official rights owner, you're bound to fall for some second-rate shit, or buy something "new" you alredy have. And the best thing: the copies often aren't cheaper one bit. It's a bit less of a problem in brick and mortar stores, but the problem is on the rise there as well.

    A single example: Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" has cost a fiver for years even before the copyright expired (and hence with no competition), is packaged nicely, and the remaster sounds astonishing. Now good luck in finding it. Seeing how it's on a pretty well-known label and a specific album, this is even comparatively easy. Becomes more difficult once you start looking just for an artist from that era.

    I don't know what the solution is - it never seems to have been such a big problem with books, not the least because you usually get the same quality. Maybe it should be allowed to copy it freely, but only the (former) rights holder should be allowed to sell them, at least when it comes to music or digital distribution?
  • Blerk Moderator 16 Jan 2013 11:29:01 48,225 posts
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    Sounds like someone should set up some kind of central repository for out-of-copyright stuff, sort of like Project Gutenberg for music.
  • Deleted user 16 January 2013 11:35:29
    Archive.org already catalogues this kind of stuff, but relies heavily on user uploads. They also get a bit iffy when stuff's expired in one country but not others. Gutenberg gets around this by having country-specific lists
  • JayG 16 Jan 2013 11:42:08 842 posts
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    Haven't they changed the laws recently? Or else the likes of the Beatles and Rolling Stones would suddenly be out of copyright. And what happens when the likes of Superman and Batman are out of copyright, I really can't see that happening in today's society.
  • Mr_Sleep 16 Jan 2013 11:45:30 16,935 posts
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    There's quite a few companies out there that trade in out of copyright material, they have been for ages, I cannot see the industry ever doing anything to censure those companies. It would go against the freedom of the market, although I'm not sure how free the music market has ever been!

    You are a factory of sadness.

  • Deleted user 16 January 2013 11:49:19
    JayG wrote:
    Haven't they changed the laws recently? Or else the likes of the Beatles and Rolling Stones would suddenly be out of copyright. And what happens when the likes of Superman and Batman are out of copyright, I really can't see that happening in today's society.
    It's a constantly moving target. Copyright expires (x) years after the death of the creator but thanks to extensive lobbying by the likes of Disney, (x) seems to be an ever-growing number

    Broadcast stuff from the UK prior to the mid-50s (IIRC) isn't in copyright as the laws didn't extend that far at that point, and every so often you'll find films that aren't copyrighted at all (like Night of the Living Dead - I think that one fell down to an admin error). There's also cases of musical "abandonware", where studios have got bust and the rights holders can't be tracked down...
  • SClaw 16 Jan 2013 11:50:43 826 posts
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    JayG wrote:
    Haven't they changed the laws recently? Or else the likes of the Beatles and Rolling Stones would suddenly be out of copyright. And what happens when the likes of Superman and Batman are out of copyright, I really can't see that happening in today's society.
    Comic book characters are more complex.

    I believe that the copyright is retained indefinately by the publisher (DC in this case) while the characters are still in use, but then reverts to the estate of the original creator if they fail to use it for a period (as is, I believe, the case with Superboy and why you don't see that name or appearance used anymore). After that I suppose it does indeed fall under the normal rules, but it would be a rare case.
  • Mr_Sleep 16 Jan 2013 11:51:06 16,935 posts
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    JayG wrote:
    Haven't they changed the laws recently? Or else the likes of the Beatles and Rolling Stones would suddenly be out of copyright. And what happens when the likes of Superman and Batman are out of copyright, I really can't see that happening in today's society.

    I think they extended it to 75 years for things that had not yet gone out of copyright, so, it's only a matter of time for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

    You are a factory of sadness.

  • Tom_Servo 17 Jan 2013 21:44:19 17,548 posts
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    There's a few times I've tried to buy a compilation of 50s stuff (since it was basically all singles back then) and simply didn't bother after seeing so many options. It's impossible to know which ones are good quality recordings, etc.
  • cubbymoore 17 Jan 2013 22:41:21 36,487 posts
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    Extended to 70 years.
  • ronuds 17 Jan 2013 22:46:21 21,788 posts
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    In regards to The Beatles, they'll be fine as long as someone owns the "rights" to their music, no?
  • mal 17 Jan 2013 23:20:19 22,456 posts
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    Yeah, I got stung with a compilation of Sinatra stuff (which, to be fair, I only bought because it was stupidly cheap) and it was all early days stuff from before they invented a working microphone (or at least, thought to use it on an apparently two-bit character like our Frank). I couldn't even tell it was Sinatra, assuming it was.

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

  • JayG 18 Jan 2013 10:21:07 842 posts
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    @cubbymoore Very interesting article, very sad what happened to Nick Jones. I can see both sides of the argument, but it would be strange to have Rolling Stones songs go out of copyright when they are still performing them live.

    In fact since getting that Sony online music service, I'm surprised by how many shite cover versions there seems to be. Look up any best of the 80's albums and it's rare to find any originals. Was the same for any Christmas albums I looked up last year.

    In fact I don't understand why Paul Mac would be so set in increasing the length when they get the rights for lifetime plus 70 years, surely would effect the likes of Elvis and other lads who performed but didn't write their music a lot more.

    Edited by JayG at 10:23:16 18-01-2013

    Edited by JayG at 10:27:07 18-01-2013
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