Warm up your modems, music pirates, because you can lower the Jolly Roger now when you share “Love Me Do” and “PS I Love You.” European law allows for copyright to expire after 50 years, and while a new law is in the works to extend that limit to 70 years, it won’t come into effect until the end of the year at least, and since the Beatles’ first hits turned 51 at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, they’re now in the public domain. At least until the law is revised.
Japan, when amending its copyright laws now, refused to apply extensions to older material whose copyright had already lapsed, which made a ton of Disney’s classic films public domain in the country, the consequences of which I saw firsthand while traveling through a huge train station last year and finding a stand full of Disney DVDs that would technically qualify as bootlegs anywhere else in the world. A quick email to my friends at BVHE revealed that, in Japan, copyrights held by an individual are protected for life + 50 years, with corporate copyrights only getting the base 50 (since they never die).
US copyright laws protect works for 95 years, which will likely get extended again the next time Mickey Mouse comes up for public ownership. Frankly, I think Japan’s system is pretty adequate. The creator’s rights are protected, and if you haven’t amassed enough assets to exploit something over 50 years, then you have bigger things to worry about. After all, with any recording old enough to collect social security, possession (of the masters) is 9/10ths of the profitability, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Via: [Rolling Stone]