Please Help Stop Bad Things Happening

by on March 21, 2009

Hello? Can you hear me? This might sound boring – a technicality. It involves industrial regulation, copyright and law. But it’s important, and we should all be at least concerned, if not angry, about what is now happening in the European parliament. What is more, time is running out and we need to act now.

What is this about?

The music industry (people who make money from musicians: for example Sony Music, EMI and industry groups that represent the recording industry like the BPI) want more money. Various reason are given: piracy, advances in technology, the situation in their markets in general, musicians needing pensions (er, no that one doesn’t make sense to me either), and other things. But we all know you don’t really need an excuse to make more money. If you see a way of getting more of it, you go for it regardless – just ask bankers.  Greed is good.  So, the music industry is asking politicians in Europe to make a change to copyright law so that recordings can be under copyright for up to 95 years. Right now, it’s 50 – not a very long time to make money from anything, as I’m sure you’ll disagree.

And extending the length of copyright is bad because…?

There are a number of reasons why its bad. I’ve not got time to explain them all – please see this for a video summary – but in a nutshell: extending the monopoly of copyright to lunatic lengths from the already huge amount of time it exists for will be bad. Bad for the consumer, bad for society, and even bad for the very industry it’s trying to make even richer.

OK, I’m convinced that this is bad, what can I do?

Please write to your MEP on the issue of term extension from 50 years to 95 years. It was rejected by the UK government in 2006 but as a result of lobbying by the music industry is now at “trialogue” stage in Brussels. This means that legislation is imminent.

There are various grounds for your objection – pick the one that you feel most annoyed about, and write about it.

Nope, I think you’re a crypto-communist loony who knows nothing about the real world

You are entitled to your opinions, but at least my side of the argument has good PowerPoint presentations.

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