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Sonny Bono Copyright Extension

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M. Ted (inactive) 22 Jan 00 - 11:21 AM
catspaw49 22 Jan 00 - 12:09 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 22 Jan 00 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 22 Jan 00 - 02:55 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 22 Jan 00 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 22 Jan 00 - 04:20 PM
katlaughing 22 Jan 00 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 22 Jan 00 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,MAG 22 Jan 00 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 22 Jan 00 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 22 Jan 00 - 04:56 PM
Joe Offer 22 Jan 00 - 05:10 PM
fox4zero 22 Jan 00 - 05:10 PM
JVZ 22 Jan 00 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 22 Jan 00 - 06:06 PM
Mary in Kentucky 22 Jan 00 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 22 Jan 00 - 06:55 PM
Barry T 22 Jan 00 - 07:18 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 22 Jan 00 - 07:47 PM
Mary in Kentucky 22 Jan 00 - 08:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 00 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 22 Jan 00 - 10:49 PM
Mary in Kentucky 22 Jan 00 - 11:36 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 23 Jan 00 - 06:48 PM
Art Thieme 23 Jan 00 - 11:09 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Jan 00 - 10:08 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 24 Jan 00 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Jan 00 - 12:09 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 24 Jan 00 - 01:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jan 00 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 24 Jan 00 - 01:51 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 24 Jan 00 - 02:08 PM
lamarca 24 Jan 00 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 24 Jan 00 - 08:36 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 24 Jan 00 - 09:19 PM
fox4zero 25 Jan 00 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 25 Jan 00 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 25 Jan 00 - 08:00 PM
Art Thieme 26 Jan 00 - 09:45 PM
CBjames 26 Jan 00 - 10:52 PM
GUEST,_gargoyle 26 Jan 00 - 11:05 PM
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Subject: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 11:21 AM

I enclose the following, courtesy of the BMI website:

Legislative Newsflash

Contesting Copyright Term Extension in Court October 20, 1999 The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension law is being contested in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC in a suit filed by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society of the Harvard University Law School. The suit, Eldred v. Janet Reno, was filed on behalf of the Eldritch Press, which operates a website that posts the full texts and excerpts of literature on the Internet. The majority of the literature posted on this website is in the public domain. The lawsuit contends that the Constitution intended copyrights to be secured for a "limited" time, and that the extension of copyright violates the Framer's intent. Specifically, the Eldritch Press is concerned that the extension of copyrights will postpone their ability to post certain works on their site, as these works will now fall into the public domain further into the future.  Posting works that have not yet fallen into the public domain without permission of the copyright owners could mean that the Eldritch Press would face criminal or infringement charges.  BMI, along with a number of other associations that represent copyright holders, has filed two amicus briefs supporting the government's position in this case BMI supports the rights of copyright holders and believes the extension of the term of copyright was a good and necessary change to the U.S. Copyright Law, as it brought the United States Copyright Law in line with the copyrights laws of most of the rest of the world. 

I am assuming that we, as lovers of, performers, of, and writers of, music, have a real interest in this--my view is that I favor the overturn of thislaw, because I believe that its effect is to remove things from the "public domain" which is a public trust, and hands them over to private interests so that they may profit from them. 

I also believe that it is about time that the "Public Domain" had some sort of organized and active protector--any thoughts (for all of you who are worried about non-music chat here, this is a real music issue, and a biggie)


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 12:09 PM

Very interesting to say the least Ted.......and who does speak for the public domain? Wonder what kind of time frame this case will move in, considering the jammed up courts?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 12:27 PM

Another point, the BMI people claim they support this bill because it helps to bring the copyright laws in line with the copyright laws of "most of the rest of the world"--in fact(as I understand it) there is a clause in this law that is actually in violation of a treaty that the US has entered to with the European Union, and the US is petitioned to appear before the WTO--

As to who speaks for the public domain, as an amicus curiae--I don't think anyone does--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 02:55 PM

The District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the plaintiffs (in favor of the CTEA's plundering of the public domain). Professor Lessig is working on an appeal. Judge June Green's opinion was, to my reading, perfunctory and simplistic. Even a ruling upholding the CTEA should show a little more respect for the issues being raised.

The web page devoted to the case is at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/eldredvreno/

The copyright law, according to the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court, is supposed to benefit the public first and authors second. The copyright law we have, especially after this latest extension, benefits media conglomerates first, some authors (grudginly) second, and the public very little.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 03:53 PM

T,

Thanks for posting this--I experience severe physical distress as I watch what is happening...

The thing that concerns me most is that most of the people who are most effected by this have little interest in taking any sort of action, beyond the usual ranting--

There is a parallel chat going on about how there is very little discussion of music related issues, but no one is reading this, or posting any thoughts on it (present company excepted)


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 04:20 PM

MTed, you aren't alone in your distress at the way that copyright has strayed from its proper function. Many voices were raised during the time the bill was in Congress. Even Pete Seeger was quoted as saying, "The grandchildren should be able to find some other way to make a living, even if their grandfather did write 'How Much Is That Doggie in the Window'". But the voices against the extension weren't as well organized, or as well funded, as the voices in favor. Michael Eisner of Disney could get on a plane, fly to Washington, and sit down face-to-face with Senator Lott of Mississippi, who is not even his own Senator. I wrote to my Senator on the same issue, and I got back a perfunctory letter which showed that the Senator (or his staff member) barely skimmed my letter. It annoys me that Michael Eisner can get the ear of any Senator he likes, while I can't get the attention even of my own Senator.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 04:23 PM

MTed, this is very interesting. I didn't know what thread you were talkng about until Spaw named it in the other thread, which I've been reading only, until now. I didn't get it form the name of thread, sorry, I just thoguht it was about Bono's copyrights, only.

I don't know if there are any easy answers. I came to the Mudcat having spent 20 years promoting classical music which was fiercely protected by copyrights and me. I knew about public domain, but never totally understood the giving of folk music until I met a few Venerable Ones here and was reminded that music can be shared without being jealously guarded.

However, I also see the point of a composer whose stuff may hit big with a soundtrack, big name release etc. They deserve to make money from it and to have their rights to it protected for at least their lifetime. I also feel that way as a writer.

Tangled webs, conundrums, and we need a balance scale of metaphysical proportions to figure it all out.

Thanks, MTed for starting this thread.

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 04:24 PM

I don't know what happened to my post.

As I was saying, even Pete Seeger was quoted as saying, "The grandchildren should be able to find some other way to make a living, even if their grandfather did write 'How Much Is That Doggie in the Window'". But the voices against the extension were neither as well organized or as well funded as the voices in favor. T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,MAG
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 04:32 PM

Who actually did write "Happy Birthday to You," how long ago, and who "owns" it now?

The Seeger quote says it all.

MA


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 04:47 PM

The words to "Happy Birthday to You" are Copyright 1935 by Mildred J. Hill(1859-1916) and Patty S. Hill(1868-1946). Under the extended 95-year copyright term these words will not enter the public domain until January 1, 2031. But watch for the copyright barons to ask for another 20-year extension beginning around 2015.

The original form of the melody is called "Good Morning to All", and was published in Song Stories for the Kindergarten, Chicago, 1893. This melody is in the public domain, as long as it is used exactly as it appeared in 1893 i.e. with a rhythm that supports an underlying text of "Good morning to all", five syllables. If you use the melody with a divided first note (supporting an underlying text of "happy"), you might get taken to court. Here I am guessing that the melody is the same except for the rhythm of the first note. But I haven't seen the 1893 book, so I can't be sure of this.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 04:56 PM

According to this table which was published in Forbes Magazine last year in a short article by Brigit McMenamin, "Happy Birthday" is now owned by Time Warner. Note that McMemamin's table has the wrong copyright date, however. The date I gave earlier, 1935, is the correct date according to The Book of World-Famous Music by James J. Fuld, New York, 1971.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 05:10 PM

I'm kind of lost on this subject. What timeframe does the Bono law set for copyright expiration, and what would it be without the law?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: fox4zero
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 05:10 PM

I'm sorry to offer a dissenting opinion, but I am in favor of the 20 year extension to the copyright. This extension merely brings older copyrights up to date with the "life of the last surviving author + 50 years" current US copyright law and the Euro laws.

I don't see where a composer's creative property differs from real property (land,stocks,gold). The most vocal opponents of copyrights are restaurant and tavern owners who are forced to pay their employees, rent, liquor supplier, and taxes....who can thay try not to pay? Composers and authors, of course.

PARISH


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: JVZ
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 05:20 PM

You folks make some pretty good points, but there are some issues which need to be considered:

1. The framers of the Constitution could not possibly have any concept whatsoever of the ways in which a song or tune could be utilized in this day and age. The concept of royalties for a single playing of a recording on the radio would be completely alien to them.

2. The idea of reproducing lyics and/or music on the internet is something that must be dealt with by lawmakers as a completely different issue from recording music for sale.

3. Although attempting to convince the courts, that extension of copywrites is unconstitutional, is a valiant effort; our time may be better spent by letting legislators know when they have made an error. I know that they have a habit of listening to the voice of money, but votes can carry a loud voice as well, if you have enough of them.

Just a few thoughts from an old folkie (or is it fogey)

John


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 06:06 PM

Joe Offer,

The CTEA was signed into law in late 1998. It extends copyrights for works published after December 31, 1922 and before January 1, 1978 to 95 years from publication, up from the 75 years provided by earlier law, which was itself a 19-year extension of the 56-year term provided by the 1909 law. Look for the same moneymen to ask for yet another 20 years as the current extension nears its end.

Works published before 1922 are in the public domain. There is a loophole which might be used to capture works published before 1922, but never mind that for now.

For works published In 1978 or later, the CTEA extends copyright to the life of the author plus 70 years, up from the life+50 that had been provided by the 1976 law. For corporate copyrights (such as most films) the CTEA raises the term to 95 years, up from the 75 years provided by the earlier law. European law sets corporate copyrights at a flat 70 years at most, so the earlier US term was already longer than Europe's. Most European countries don't protect sound recordings by copyright. This is considered "neighboring rights" in Europe. The term for records in Europe is 50 years, though it may be 70 years in some countries now.

The CTEA also contains some provisions modifying the music licensing system for taverns and restaurants. Some of these reforms were long overdue, but one of them, which (as I understand) totally exempts some small clubs from license fees, seems to me to be something of a blunt-instrument approach to a problem that should have been treated with more finesse--as I mentioned in the "Should Auld Copyrights be Forgot" thread some days ago.

Parish: the difference between tangible property and intangible "property" inaccurately so-called seems pretty clear to me.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 06:32 PM

I'm also quite lost on this subject.

What specifically is the law on posting lyrics on the Internet? And what about midi files? (I've purposely not directed people to the DT for songs that I think were probably written in the last 50 years.) Can a person put a midi file and the words to Winter Wonderland on their website?

Concerning the Internet...Is there a clear law defining these things or is it all interpretation so far?

Whenever I ask my "politically in-the-know" friends, they have no clue. I've also pounded a reporter for a feature article to raise public awareness of this...but no luck. If I knew what to say to my congressman, I would. Any suggestions?

Mary


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 06:55 PM

Mary in Kentucky, In my opinion (but remember, this is strictly private opinion, nothing in this post is legal advice, nothing in this post establishes a lawyer-client relationship, etc., etc.) posting copyrighted music or lyrics on the web without permission is infringement, unless it happens to come under "fair use". (A simple example -- one of the few simple examples -- of fair use is a book reviewer quoting a passage from the book in his review.) I think posting MIDI files of copyrighted music would also be infringement. The question remains what specific right would be infringed by an unauthorized MIDI file. Is a MIDI file a "phonorecord" or a "public performance" -- or both ?

Your rule of thumb of avoiding music written in the last 50 years would have been almost right before 1978 when the term of copyright was 56 years. But beginning in 1978 the term of copyright was raised to 75 years, and in 1998 they raised it again to 95 years. What was published by the authority of its author in 1922 or earlier is now in the public domain, but nothing published in 1923 will enter the public domain until January 1, 2019.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Barry T
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 07:18 PM

The subject of midi files could probably spawn its own thread here, but for temporary continuity here are some thoughts...

There are three dimensions to the issue of copyright of a midi sequence... (1) The melody itself may be copyrighted (2) The arrangement may be copyrighted (even if the tune itself is public domain), and (3) The midi itself would be copyrighted, especially if the author has used his/her own arrangement to produce the midi.

I can't speak for other countries, but the Canadian Copyright Board has tackled the issue of music on the Internet by creating a new category... "communication of a musical work through telecommunication". In other words, they're treating midi neither as a "performance" nor as "publishing" in the traditonal hard copy sense. What they're really struggling with is determining what tariffs to put in place for such telecommunication.

Confusing? You bet!


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 07:47 PM

T-You don't have your name back--I got mine, having had a problem similar to yours, by changing the spacing, punctuation, etc, til the system recognized it--Joe helped me on this, and I'll bet he can help you, too!!

Thanks for posting this stuff--it is so important for people to know about and begin understanding this stuff--Whether people understand how it is being done or not, a lot of money is being made, at their expense, and not always in ways that are fair--

I am not one to deny Parrish his royalties, but there are other issues here, and until everyone concerned understands what the situation is, and has voice for their interests, it is definitely unfair--

I live a few miles from the District (as Washington DC is euphemistically called, hereabouts) and intend to begin making visits of my own--Though they get a lot of mail, most legislators get relatively few visitors--I also intend to start calling on the geeks who do the grunt work on these laws (you don't actually believe that your congressperson sits down and actually writes legislation, do you?) and passing along some information--it would be good to have some collaborators though--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 08:03 PM

M.Ted--I think this is fascinating, and I would be willing to do anything to help you that I can do from home. ie type, do Internet research/reading, send emails, (just don't ask me to talk on the phone) I've never done any lobbying (except I wrote to a federal judge one time), but I have friends who are very politically savvy. They just aren't aware of music and copyrights, etc. Write to me in the Mudcat personal messages and give me some direction.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 08:49 PM

The assumption that copyrigh, and suchlike necessarily protects the person who created the work in question doesn't always stand up.

Just take a look at the thread about Nic Jones.

There you have a great singer, whose performing days were ended by a tragic accident years ago - and, because some bastard owns the rights in his most important records and is playing silly buggers, these can't be made readily available to people who'd want to hear them. And Nic Jones and his family are deprived of the money they should be getting if the records could be re-released.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 10:49 PM

Mary in Kentucky, it looks like Joe fixed my earlier garbled post, so you can compare my luck in contacting my Senator back in 1998 with Michael Eisner's luck in getting the ear of a Senator that isn't even his own state's.

If you read the record carefully you'll notice that the bill passed Congress without roll call votes. Almost any member, except for its sponsors, can deny having voted for it! (In the Senate, I'm not sure there was even a quorum, though I may not be interpreting the Congressional Record right on that point.) President Clinton signed it without making any announcement (though the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which was signed on the same day, was signed with some fanfare) explaining why the public's rights must be further denied. I don't think it likely that the CTEA will be legislatively repealed, but maybe if we make our disgust at the cynical way the bill was passed (as well as the unreasonable term itself) we can keep a future Congress from extending the term another 20 years. The best chance for the overthrow of the CTEA itself is probably the court challenge.

If you're interested in the legislative aspects of this whole sorry tale, visit Professor Karjala's web page at http://www.public.asu.edu/~dkarjala. The discussion of "What are the issues and what happened ?" is here.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 11:36 PM

T in OK, I like that link; it seems to be a concise summary***translated, that means maybe I can finally understand this*****. It's hard for me to converse on this subject (much less write to a legislator) when I don't have an understanding of the basic facts.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 06:48 PM

Note the following inaccuracy in the BMI newsflash: At the time the CTEA was passed, only western Europe had a life+70 term of copyright. How can a copyright regime not shared by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and probably heaps of other countries be the copyright term of "most" of the rest of the world ?

Besides that, there is the question of whether the Europeans themselves were right to do as they did. The United States is not required to follow meekly along with every hare-brained European policy.

Strong doubts about the soundness and true motivations of the European extension are raised here, here, and here.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 11:09 PM

Parish,

With all due respect, somehow I suspect you have a monetary reason to put forth your views on this topic. Are you the inherited owner of the lyric end of Hoagy's and your dad's song now? Is this a conflict of interest that ought to disqualify you from this discussion? ;>)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 10:08 AM

FMI (for the Mudcat's Information):

Here is Laura Gassaway's handy chart entitled, "When Works Pass into the Public Domain".

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 11:48 AM

T in Okie,

What is the current status of works published after that did not have copyright renewed? Can these works be restored to copyright?


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 12:09 PM

MTed, according to Lolly Gassaway's chart, U.S. works published before 1964 are now in the public domain if they were not renewed. If they were renewed, they are in the public domain only if they were published before 1923.

Finding out if a copyright was renewed it not easy, but some helpful links can be found here.

Lolly Gassaway's chart doesn't mention this specifically, but certain foreign works that lost copyright due to non-renewal were restored to copyright by a 1995 law called the URAA, which implements the GATT in U.S. domestic law. If these foreign works were published in 1923 or later, then, as I understand, their copyrights are good until at least 2019.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 01:01 PM

ASCAP has a list of those at its site--ASCAP List of Restored Works though they note that it is not complete--since they monitor the royalties payments, this has got to be the most complete list available--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 01:41 PM

Is there any country with a sensible copyright length - say, 20 years or till the author dies?


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 01:51 PM

Outside of western Europe and the U.S., I think most countries still adhere to the life + 50 rule. In western Europe, I think Switzerland still has life + 50. I have no certain knowledge of any country with shorter terms than this, though there might be some. I believe the rule of the Universal Copyright Convention is a minimum of 25 years, once renewable, a "minimum maximum" of 50 years.

Sorry I can't be of more help on this point.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 02:08 PM

I is worth noting that the copyright laws are a relatively recent innovation--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: lamarca
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 05:06 PM

I am in the process of cataloging my collection of music books, and have noticed that some of them state "Copyright date Author's name" and others (the majority) state "Copyright date Publisher's name".

Am I understanding this correctly: In one case, the actual author/editor of the work holds the copyright, and in the other, the copyright is held by a corporation, the publishing company. What are the copyright terms/length for an author vs. a publisher?

When a song is written, who holds the copyright in most cases? The lyricist? The librettist (if the two are different people?) The recording company that releases the first recording of it? The performing artist who made that recording? The performing artist(s) who makes a commercial hit of it? The recording company who published the hit recording? The publisher of the sheet music?

The current confusion in copyright laws and whose property they are supposed to protect comes from the incredible complexity and number of folks with something to gain from an extension. It's my feeling that far too often, the intellectual property rights of a creator rank far below the commercial property rights of a corporation that takes the financial risk of publishing an artistic work. Extensions of copyright effectively protect the financial interests of corporations without doing much for the creator and his/her heirs.

The adult children and grandchildren of a brilliant songwriter have every bit as much right to expect an inheritance from their clever relative as Muffy, Cedric and George W. do from their more financially astute forbears - how much unearned wealth they're entitled to depends on how much of a socialist you are (and I'm still a knee-jerk socialist, myself...) I don't begrudge an author's widow and children from collecting royalties, but something seems rather skewed when 70 years later the third generation down OR an unrelated third party still claims "ownership" of something they had no hand in creating.

How is copyright related to patent law? What is the average term for a patent on an intellectual concept, invention, process, chemical compond, etc? How long may patents be extended? Is there a difference between the two types of protection of intellectual property, and if so, why? Okiemockingbird, you seem very knowledgable about this subject - are there any basic summaries about this that a curious layperson would understand?


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 08:36 PM

lamarca, I'll respond to a few of your points now and save the rest for later. Remember that nothing in this post (or any post of mine) is legal advice; it's just private opinion.

Some good web sites discussing the basics of copyright are

Benedict O'Mahoney's Copyright Basics. This only discusses some topics, and hasn't been updated to take the Sonny Bono extension into account;

Professor Terry Carrol's Copyright FAQ. This also is not yet updated for the Bono CTEA, but Prof. Carrol does provide a page of updates.

Patents currently last for about 20 years. I say "about" because there are two ways of figuring the term, one (20 years) from when the application is filed, one (17 years) from when the patent is issued. I'm not sure which applies under what circumstances. A copyright is a weaker monopoly than a patent, so it is arguable that a copyright should last somewhat longer than a patent.

A common practice in publishing was for the author to sell the copyright outright for a lump sum. Now the common practice may still be to sell the copyright, but in exchange for a royalty contract. In any case, except in a work-for-hire situation the law grants the copyright first to the author. But for the author to transfer the copyright to a publisher is I think fairly common. (Scholars in many fields usually transfer the copyright to the journal-publisher without payment. Some musicians may set up their own publishing companies, in which case the transfer is out of one pocket, into the other.) The copyright notices you have seen in which the publisher is named as proprieter may represent cases where the copyright was transferred from author to publisher. The notices where the author is proprieter might represent cases where the author was in a strong enough bargaining position to insist on retention of copyright, or perhaps they simply indicate that different publishing houses have different practices.

Maybe there are some authors and songwriters on-list who have more experience of commercial publishing than I have had, who might be able to give you the inside scoop on publishing house practices.

Besides this there is a legal doctrine known as work-for-hire. In certain circumstances the legal author is not the human author, but the author's employer. Films are commonly considered works for hire in the U.S., but I think books sometimes qualify too. Some of the copyright notices you have seen in which a publisher is names as copyright holder may be in works for hire.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 09:19 PM

There is a bit of information missing in all of these places(as far as I can see), and that an explanation of what the nature of a copyright is, and how the ownership and control are divided between author and publisher--

Basically, the Author or authors who created the work split the royalties with the publisher, who controls the publication or use of the work.

People are often perplexed as to how Michael Jackson could have purchased the rights to the songs that Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote, and, simply, it is because he bought the publishing rights--which belonged to Northern Songs, while McCartney and Lennon's heirs retained the author's rights.

Of course, as in all things, things get slightly more complicated, but this is not a legal opinion, and hopefully, you will not attempt to use my explanation as legal advice of any sort--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: fox4zero
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 01:01 PM

To Art Theme: YES, I definitely have a financial interest in the S.B. Copyright Extension, being one of the heirs of the Estate of Mitchell Parish. I did not consider the necessity of making a disclaimer at that time, but perhaps I should have.

I still feel that there is not a significant difference between real property and intellectual or creative property. If your deceased forebear was a real estate developer with many income properties, would it be immoral to enjoy the fruits of his "labors?" even though you made no contribution to his enterprise?

While I am NOT in the least bit implying that folkies are a financially oriented group; but don't performers also have a conflict of interest in the availability of free song materials?

I agree that this is a complex problem as far as the web is concerned, and I know that ASCAP and other societies are contracting with mp3.com concerning these issues.

I am very fond of the MC community. PARISH


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 01:37 PM

The law calls some thing "property" because they are property. Their status as "property" predates their legal protection as such.

But in the case of both land, copyright, and patent, it is the other way around: to the extent that these things are "property" at all, they are "property" only because the law, for pragmatic policy reasons, says they are. Neither land nor copyrights were "property" in the English legal tradition until fairly recent centuries. In the middle ages copyrights didn't exist, and land was not "owned" as such. Rather, certain rights to certain lands could be owned and transferred, certain other rights were in common, certain others were often reserved for the landlord's social superior. Even in modern times the word "property" doesn't apply to land as well as it applies to personal goods.

The public policy question, of how long copyrights should last and how broad their scope should be, is not solved simply by repeating the word "property" as some sort of magic spell. Even if we overlook the enormous difference between your-pocketknife-as-your-property and your-copyright-as-your-property, we are still stuck with the question: what is the best way to regulate this "property" for the common good ? My answer is: in the case of copyrights, they should be kept short-lived. Everything good the copyright monopoly does, it usually does within 50 years or so if it ever will. Everything bad that it does, such as restraining creativity and acting as a tool of censorship, can be made worse by long durations.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 08:00 PM

lamarca, you wrote:

When a song is written, who holds the copyright in most cases? The lyricist? The librettist (if the two are different people?) The recording company that releases the first recording of it? The performing artist who made that recording? The performing artist(s) who makes a commercial hit of it? The recording company who published the hit recording? The publisher of the sheet music?

My understanding of the U.S. situation is (but the usual disclaimers apply: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc. etc.) as follows:

When an original song is first written, the law creates a copyright in the lyrics and grants it to the lyricist , and it creates a copyright in the music and grants it to the composer. These are two separate copyrights in a case of this kind. As I mentioned earlier, the copyright is sometimes assigned to a publisher. If it is, the publisher becomes the new owner. In theory the original author can "terminate" the assignment after 30 years and recapture the copyright. In practice this is not easy to do, and the termination mechanism is little used. There is a link from the "Should Auld Copyrights be Forgot ?" thread to some news articles about termination of half the copyright to Superman (half, because in that case the two authors were joint authors of the whole work, each owning half the copyright interest in the single whole), if you want to know more about termination rights.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 09:45 PM

Howdy Parish,

I truly understand your point. And nothing does or should disqualify you from this or any other discussion. I was out of line in my query to you when I said that. And you certainly ought to be getting income from your inheritance. God knows, if it wasn't for an inheritance, I'd not be making it at all right now. The folk Alliance is trying to get us old folkies to think more like businessfolk in this brave new era. But that's really hard work. I glibly used to say that "in folk music there's no such thing as a career move." Too late to worry about that now I guess.

Art


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: CBjames
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 10:52 PM

Geez! This whole discussion p***es me off!

The "Limeliter Definition" of folkmusic was that 1. Nobody Wrote It 2. Nobody Knows It 3. Everybody Sings It

Well clearly Sonny Bono was a nobody, and I only sing his songs when I haven't got anything better to doodle on.

Most of what I sing, I just want words that sound okay for . I could care less if they were what were actually penned in the first place. A good song is found in how you feel when you belt it out (or sing it soft and sweet) and has absolutely nothing to do with its written form in words or music.

Sure we crib from suggestions of words or of chords or of notes but how often really do we sing what's on the paper?

I'm sure this is an arguement that was probably well explored by 'catters long before I joined the circle. The point should be the last.

-- Everyone Sings It !! --- & you can't get much more perverted than trying to copywrite "Happy Birthday" Even Bob Dylan wouldn't have stooped THAT low.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,_gargoyle
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 11:05 PM

In the U.S.A. it appears, that when the copyright police swoop in (never had it done to me personally...but it ain't my practice to play in popular bars) that one of the things they examine is your "fake book" if the transcriptions are ORIGINAL (your own nomenclature/handwritten and NOT photocopied) then you are "legit")

Mr. CBJames....I thoroughly enjoy your wry wit!!!!


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 27 Jan 00 - 09:59 AM

The Constitution clearly states that "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States." The 105th Congress weasled around this ban on hereditary titles by creating hereditary monopolies.

The end result of grants of monopoly, if they are allowed to endure too long, can be seen by examining some of the grievances of the Senechaussee of Rennes, who in 1789 petitioned the Estates General praying for, among many other things,

Supression de la servitude plus meurtrière du droit de suite de mouline...usage libre des meules `a bras; proscription absolue de la capitation deigneuriale à raison de ces tristes machines; et que la postérité ignore, s'il se peut, qu la tyrannie féodale bretonne, armée du pouvoir judiciare, n'a pas rougi, dans ces derniers temps, de briser les meules à bras, et de vendre annuellement à des malheureaux la faculté de broyer entre deux pierres une mesure d'orge ou de sarrasin.

(Suppression of the mankilling servitude of suit-to-mill, ... free use of querns; [and] absolute abolition of the royalty on these pathetic engines; that posterity may never know (if that is possible) that the tyrannical Breton lords, armed with the judicial power, did not blush in these modern times to smash querns, and to sell to the unfortunate folk annual "license" to grind a measure of barley or buckwheat between two stones.) M.J. Mavidal and M.E. Laurent, eds., Archives Parlementaires de 1787 a 1860, 1st Series, Vol. 5, Paul DuPont, Paris, 1879, p.547.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 27 Jan 00 - 11:54 AM

Curious that you should bring this up, OkieMock, in the back of my mind, I seem to recall that ASCAP and company are expanding their scope and attempting to collect new lisensing revenues--

Parish mentioned something about restauraunt owners who are just trying to get out of paying composers etc. What he did not mention is that ASCAP is trying to collect a lisensing fee from every restaurant and tavern that plays music either from the radio or from a CD,tape, or record player, on the thoery that it is entertainment--(which is virtually every restaurant and tavern, at least in the US)

The rub is that there would be no new services provided for this fee, we all would just be paying a fee for listening, by way of restaurants and taverns, to something we once were able to listen to for free.

In addition, these actions, combined with the Sonny Bono Copy right extension(shall we call it the SoB?) in effect subjects everyone who wants to sing songs such as kids around campfires, families who picnic in public areas, and groups of infirm and elderly in residential and rehabilitational facilities, to a fee for the "priviledge" of singing--

I don't have a problem with the idea of royalties, and I don't even have a problem with the idea that the rights to these royalties may be passed on to heirs--

What I do have a problem with is the fact that we are being asked to pay more money, for a longer time, for the same old songs--The effect is a little like the mortgage company coming back after you've payed off a thirty year mortgage, and claiming that, since you are still living in the house in year 31, you ought to still pay them money.

Royalty revenues for the music publishing industry have started to decline, and as with all good business people, they are looking for new ways to collect money on old properties--and that is what this is all about--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 27 Jan 00 - 01:09 PM

MTed, I too have used the mortgage analogy myself more than once, for example here and here; it is a way of expressing the how unfair I feel the extension was. The law currently doesn't allow the licensing syndicates to charge us for singing in the shower, but one sometimes suspects that if they could put such a provision into the law, they would. The Clinton Administrations "White Paper", for example, tended in the direction of transforming the World Wide Web into a chiefly pay-per-view environment.

I don't object to the mere existence of a public performance right in music. I do think that some of the exemptions of 17 U.S.C. 110 may need to be broadened, and that the music licensing system needs to be modified in some ways. The irony of the Bono Act is that it actually reduced the amount of performance royalties that will be collected by the licensing syndicates from some smaller bars and taverns: living songwriters were theoretically (I say theoretically because an individual ASCAP member may in practice have been paid very little, even under the old rules) sacrificed to the heirs of dead songwriters. This was the legislative quid pro quo for the extension. The movie studios and estates were getting a windfall, and the tavernkeepers wanted their cut. I sympathize with the small tavernkeepers wanting to get out of the flawed licensing system altogether, but for those that don't qualify for the new exemption, some of the old problems remain.

Whether copyrights should be inheritable is a question purely of policy, subject to constitutional limits. The Constitution says that copyrights may be granted only to "authors". It doesn't say "authors and their heirs". It doesn't say that they must be classified legally as a form of property (Adam Smith classified them as exclusive privileges, not as property rights). It may seem harsh not to allow copyrights to serve as a legacy a widowed spouse or surviving minor children, but to do so is already a stretch of the constitutional phrase "for authors". Then suddenly in 1993, the estates began saying, on the basis of no American tradition whatever, that copyrights were supposed to cover two full generations of heirs. I am willing to tolerate stretching the constitutional wording enough to make copyrights last until the author's children, born when the author is 20-40 years old, reach their majority. But if the legacy is to last longer than this, the author, or author's managers or executors, should be required to do as all the rest of us must do if we wish to build an endowment, and convert the copyright income into long-term investments such as stocks, bonds, and bank deposits.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 27 Jan 00 - 01:48 PM

T,

Believe it or not, I didn't read your post, I was simply thinking along the same lines--

I can't spend as much time as it really takes to keep up on all of this, and I tend to be a little quicker at at understanding these sort of things than a lot of others-- This may be the real root of the problem--it is all so far from the common realm of understanding that the only group people with a clear picture of what is happening are the ones who are benefitting from it--

The public at large has no idea what their interest is, because the mechanism i one that they don't understand--it is a lot like out mortgage analogy--most people have no understanding of how mortagages work(I am in the process of selling a house, and I can assure you that most realtors don't understand anything about the mechanisms that are involved)

I won't get into social or political philosophy here, except to say that part of my concern is that from this Sonny Bono thing to the rash of IPO's and the going number of megamergers, there is a lot of short scramling for cash flow that comes at the cost of long term destabilization of the existing system of relationships--

For the average person, it means that we will have to pay more, and get less--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 28 Jan 00 - 01:25 PM

You're right, the recent mergers in the entertainment industry increase the chances that the micro-monopolies of copyright might be pooled into giant macro-monopolies.

Copyright expiration is one of the best anti-trust mechanisms in the art world. If copyrights would timely expire, we would have that much less reason to be worried that media conglomerates would turn into giant engines monopolistic pricing or private censorship.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,CBJames
Date: 28 Jan 00 - 10:15 PM

Well Gargoyle you sobered me up. There appears to be more to this than "Kitchen party" music involved here. But Good God why should every Jimminy Cricket have to pay Walt to sing "When you wish upon a star" too his two year old.

Why should he not sing it out at the Legion, or at the Ship Inn ? Most folks there are like him. Not a whole bunch of bread..

I really do find it hard to believe your account of copyright police.

cbj


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 09:53 AM

Richard Morrison's comment of October 23, 1998 can be found at http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/98/10/23/timartart01002.html?999. As in his other comments on the recent European and U.S. extensions, he expresses strong doubts that these act acually benefit authors.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 10:50 AM

Thanks for posting that--and keeping this thread alive--

It has been pointed out to me that, particularly with ASCAP publishers, certain types of royalties apparently are essentially split among members with a prejudice in favor of the companies that founded the organization--as it was explained to me, extending the copyrights essentially means that they continue to collect a slice of the pie, even if no one uses any of the material they hold the rights to--

I may be slightly inaccurate on this, since it has been explained to me second or third hand, so if anyone can add or clarify (or correct) it would be appreciated--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 11:42 AM

M.Ted, have you seen this article by Harvey Reid ?

According to Reid:

"ASCAP's 'random' taping of some 60,000 hours of radio airplay as the basis for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars has been challenged as having too much inherent error; that it is not provable that is it indeed a fair and just way to compensate copyright owners for use of their work. For example; currently, the percentage of fees paid by public broadcasting stations is somewhere between 5.8% and 6.3% (depending on whom you ask), yet the sampling system only samples these stations 690 hours per year, which divided into 1500 stations comes to 27 minutes per year per station, or about 4.5 seconds a day, and slightly more than 1.1% of the 60,000 hours. The system is clearly topheavy and greatly favors the few who get heavy airplay."

and:

"ASCAP's policies and the rates charged to copyright users are determined by its 12-member board of directors (who are elected by the membership), and votes cast in their elections are weighted according to the amount of money paid that year. If you did not receive royalty money from ASCAP last year, you cannot vote this year. Because of this, it is unlikely that changes to make sure smaller writers and publishers get a fair share will come from within ASCAP."

--from near the end of the essay.

T.


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