Letter to EU Commissioner on 95 Year Copyright Extension [Updated]

I recently read a Slashdot article “EU Commissioner proposes 95 year copyright”. I am a staunch supporter of the European project; or at least the ideals it is based on to create a peaceful, demcratic union of countries with a common background and share similiar goals. Intrigued by the article I read it only to find out that a local man who used to represent my area was responsible. I had to write to him to ask how he lost his mind….

Dear Mr. McCreevy;

I am writing to you from Kildare. You have served our county over the years; and I even thought you would become Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) one day (being the Minister for Finance is a front-runner position- let’s be honest) but then you went to Europe.

But that’s not the subject of this correspondence. I am writing to you to voice my disgust for your proposed levies and taxes in conjunction with an even longer copyright extension. What are you thinking Mr. McCreevy? The average musician does not live for 95 years. I am responding to points made by you in the International Herald Tribune (Original article: AP Newswire; Published 14/02/2008) and the legislation proposed at your level in the commission (through which you will have direct influence).

  1. Your Misguided view of copyright:

“If nothing is done, thousands of European performers who recorded in the late 1950s and 1960s will lose all of their airplay royalties over the next ten years,” said EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, the union’s internal market chief. “These royalties are often their sole pension.”

I don’t know about you Mr. McCreevy; but I will have to set aside money from my earnings for my pension;. why shouldn’t artists? Copyright is supposed to encourage innovation; not reward old creations. Copyright on these works should have rightfully expired on these a long time ago; forcing these musicians to create more music we all love and enjoy, instead of idly collecting money for work done sometimes as much as fifty years ago. These Musicians were already paid for their works a long time ago; and they signed it over to a [record] company. You are only enriching a company that contributes zero cultural value back by extending a copyright term. This has been proven time and time again if you would do your research.

  1. Extra Copies / Levies

The EU executive also wants to look again at reforming copyright levies charged on blank discs, data storage and music and video players to compensate artists and copyright holders for legal copying when listeners burn an extra version of an album to play one at home and one in the car.

Why should as a consumer I have to pay twice for a music recording? You know this will only have the effect of driving up the cost of a CD and increasing piracy? “You can’t charge me twice if I choose to pirate it!”; and this is how a lot of consumers will see it; like double tax evasion only easier with less risk! You must recognise also that the music collection agencies are run by cartels that is the music industry (Big Four: SonyBMG, Warner, EMI, Universal ) which is almost never fair to artists? (Look at SoundExchange in the United States for this). What about when I use disks for backup of my data (which is the only reason I use them for) why should I pay royalties for music I never pirated? How also can you tell which artists deserves more royalties than the next? You can’t; and that is why this idea is so stupid you should put it to bed now!

  1. Who it benefits?

The extension would not benefit only stars such as French crooner Charles Aznavour or British pop star Cliff Richard, McCreevy said. Session musicians who played on a recording would also be able to draw on a new fund.

Ah-ha-ha-ha You see Mr. Mc.Creevy case in point! These men actually own; or have very liberal licensing terms with their record companies; allowing them in the first place to be spokespeople for longer copyright terms. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of artists; who don’t have that luxury. Please remind me what exactly these men have contributed to society musically in the last few years? Oh riiiiiight; thats nothing; zero; zilch! What about others of that era? Elvis? dead and buried! Beatles? no longer around! and I could go on and on and on about how they are literally getting money for nothing….. The only beneficiary will be the record companies who own the recordings to 70’s and 80’s material which is lucrative (for this see Michael Jackson owning some of the Beatles catalogue).

My plea to you is to stop this insanity and work towards less copyright restriction not more. Copyright was originally designed to safeguard an original author to make back the time and the effort he/she put into the creation which benefitted society (ie. compensation usually in the form of monetary gain). With this understanding it’s plain to see these people have long since got back many times the creative energy they put in and societies debt to them has long since passed.

Your former constituent;
N Grogan


P.S. I am eagerly awaiting you reply and any comments you have on what I have said…

I got a reply from someone in the commissioners office (I have removed the name); better than nothing but I’d still like to hear from him on the matter…. Anyway here it is:

Dear Mr Grogan,
Thank you for your e-mail of 14 February concerning the term of protection for sound recordings.
The Commissioner has noted your most interesting comments. These will be taken into account in the elaboration of the formal Commission proposal.