Tuesday 8 January 2013

Bob Dylan: The Copyright Extension Collection

As Eleonora reported on Monday, the IPO recently launched a consultation to gather views on the draft regulations intended to implement Directive 2011/77/EU in the UK, which would extend the term of protection for performers and sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. This directive was known as the Cliff Richard Directive as it enabled Sir Cliff Richard to continue to receive royalties on songs recorded in the early 1960s.

Now, because the 20-year extension only applies to works published before the expiry of the 50-year term, we are seeing a new release from Bob Dylan - his 50th Anniversary Collection, straightforwardly subtitled "The Copyright Extension Collection". This is a four-disk compilation of Bob Dylan songs, which was released last month to enable Sony (and therefore Dylan) to cash in on the songs on Dylan's 1962 debut LP, which would otherwise have entered the public domain in Europe on 1 January 2013. 
According to Rolling Stone, Sony Music have said that "This isn't a scheme to make money. The copyright law in Europe was recently extended from 50 to 70 years for everything recorded in 1963 and beyond. With everything before that, there's a new 'Use It or Lose It' provision. It basically said, 'If you haven't used the recordings in the first 50 years, you aren't going to get any more.'"
Most Dylan fans will be disappointed however as Sony have only released 100 CDs to select record shops. At least one of these is for sale on eBay: current bid US $1,077.63.
Given that last November readers unanimously answered "yes" when I asked "Is the term of protection of copyright too long?", I would be interested in hearing your views on this loophole.

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