The European Parliament's legal affairs committee has voted to extend copyright for music recording from 50 to 95 years, Billboard reports.
The Times newspaper reports that one of the leading proponents of the move was Sir Cliff Richard, Britain's answer to Barry Manilow. Sir Cliff has some funny quotes, like this one:
“The wheels have turned slowly but I’m so glad that at last the balance is restored and artists and their dependants will have the security of 95 years of copyright income. “Of course I’m pleased for myself, but the relief will be huge for those performers whose pension is largely made up of royalties from perhaps just two or three recordings in the fifties or sixties. Well done and thanks to the lawmakers for a good and just decision.”
What kind of security does 95 years of protection give? For artists who cut their hit singles at the age of 5, they have the security of knowing that they won't be reduced to eating cat food well into their second century, I suppose. For more latter-day artists, there may be a concern that medical technology will cause them to live for hundreds of years, sucking their royalties dry.
Oh, but it's "artists and their dependents." Well, sure, but why stop at one generation of descendents. Why not just keep it going for the grand kids, the great grand kids, etc. There's a reason that copyright is limited in time. At least in the U.S. Constitution, it's to give a temporary monopoly to creators so that they will take the risk to create. The idea that once recorded a piece of music is forever the property of the family, rather than the society just doesn't hold up. There's simply no societal benefit in allowing the family of the artist to block others from using the work, basically forever.
How about after 50 years, we take all the royalties generated and distribute them to every citizen, for our "pensions." After the artist has had a good run, it's time to move the benefits to society, not lock them up in the bank accounts of artists' spoiled kids.