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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: Copyright Extension Rejected In UK

From:

Dismuke <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 26 Jul 2007 10:56:35 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (118 lines)

--- Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


>    
>   While I might sound like a broken record, you
> don't make any money unless your record company
> keeps your recording in print. Given the current
> distribution modalities, with the 50 year limit,
> most musician's recordings are more likely to be
> preserved and heard.
>    

I agree with this and what Phillip Holmes has said as
well.  But the thing to keep in mind is that today's
distribution modalities will not be around for much
longer.  

The labels might try through legislation to make the
implementation of the new technologies as difficult as
possible - but, at best, it will only delay it and it
might end up backfiring and actually expedite the
labels' demise.  In the long run, one cannot put the
technological genie back into the bottle.  Short of
the collapse of entire civilizations, I cannot think
of a single instance where any such attempt has been
successful. If nothing else, a black market for the
technology will spring up - as was the case with
Napster and mp3 piracy.

There are very good reasons to believe that, in the
future, it will be the artists who will hold the
copyrights to their own material.  And I think it is
reasonable and just that copyright protection be
available at least through the life of the copyright
holder and somewhat beyond.  

The vast majority of artists have every motive in the
world to keep their older material in print (though
there have been a few instances I have heard of where
artists have sought to destroy or supress their
earlier works).   And with today's technology, there
is almost zero excuse for a published work to go out
of print unless the owner WANTS it to be out of print.
 When it no longer makes sense to do another
production run of books or CDs, there is no reason why
online versions cannot remain forever available. The
per unit storage and distribution costs are about as
close to zero as one can get - so any sales that
result from it after that point are pure gravy.

I also think that, in ways well beyond recorded music,
the recent technological advances spell the inevitable
end of mass media pop culture as we have known it
throughout all of our lives.  Under a mass media pop
culture, trends were determined by finding a widest
(which frequently means lowest) common denominator. 
Because of lower costs, niches of all varieties
imaginable will prosper where before they wouldn't
have stood a chance.  And, because of it, even
narrower niches will develop including niches that
never even existed before.  

In a mass market, everything is determined by what
will appeal to the largest number of people. As a
result, there are lots of compromises and the public
pretty much has to content itself with what is served
up.  By contrast, when people have endless choices
open to them as is the case in a niche dominated
market, they tend to seek out the best (however that
might be defined) and quality wins.

For this reason, what I think one will begin to see in
ALL musical genres is that the recordings that become
successful will tend to be more timeless and enduring
unlike today where the vast majority of them are old
hat after a few months and soon forgotten.   Of
course, there will be lots and lots of utter crap out
there as well - your delusional cousin who THINKS he
can sing but can't will very easily be able to make
and publish recordings of his efforts.  But such
efforts will not attract very much in the way of word
of mouth recommendations and will meet the fate that
they deserve.  But for the stuff that IS good - well,
such material will forever have access to appreciative
fans.  The phenomenon of being a "has been" the moment
the major labels and FM music directors lose interest
will largely go away.  Artists will have the means
available to them to keep their name and work before
their core fan base and to keep exapanding it. And
there will be far fewer obsticles to prevent younger
people from discovering and appreciating music from
before their time. 

In the past, copyrights in the hands of the labels
have, at times, worked to the artist's disadvantage. 
A recording out of print does not do an artist any
good in terms of acquiring new fans.  A record label
which owns one's material and is only concerned about
promoting the latest temporary sensation and couldn't
care less about what it considers yesterday's news is
not a very good partner as one's career matures. 

As a result of the Internet, older recordings have
become more valuable and relevant - and this will only
be more so when the recordings of current and future
artists are no longer new.  For that reason, a
copyright extension, per se, in the UK on sound
recordings strikes me as reasonable.  But any such
extension needs to address the phenomenon of abandoned
works (mandatory renewals would work great for that).
And, above all, those amending the copyright laws
should NOT do so on the premise of the business model
of the existing Big Four labels or for the purpose of
trying to artifically perpetuate their increasingly
irrelevant existence. The laws need to take cognizance
of new technologies - including the fact that such
technologies doom the labels in the long run. 

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