Hey fellas. I missed this the other day, but Rolling Stone recently reported that “Love Me Do,” the very first single by Frank Ocean’s favorite band, The Beatles, has technically entered into the public domain in Europe!
Yes, thanks to the fact that Europe’s current copyright law estimates the lifespan of human beings at 35 years because of all the horrific wars that took place there in the 20th century, the copyrights for recorded music are set to expire after 50 years. Ergo, since we all totally know off the top of our heads that “Love Me Do” (along with its lesser-known B-side tribute to American air pressure measurements, “P.S.I. Love You”) was released all the way back in 1962, that would mean that… yes, say it with me now, “Europeans can theoretically use that song for whatever goofy purpose they want as of January 1, 2013!”
And boy, are they ever! A company called Digital Remasterings has already taken advantage of the fact and included “Love Me Do” on an early Beatles compilation that it just released; and the classical reissue label Pristine Classical released it as a “remastered single,” but only because they wanted to protest the “trouble the extended copyright will cause in its work reissuing old symphonic recordings,” which sounds like the most boring protest ever. So far, it seems that Ringo Starr has resisted his urge to record new drums on top of the song and re-releasing it, but if I was him, you can bet your ass that’s what I’d be doing.
Unfortunately, though, even though I’m out of quips, there’s more to the story than that. A “move is underway” to extend recording copyrights in ye olde European Union to a more robust 70 years (it’s currently set at 95 years in the US, if you were wondering), with the new law including a pretty unassailably logical “use it or lose it clause,” which means that rights-holders (which pretty much just refers to record labels in the 60s) for recordings released before 1963 would have to keep making them available for public consumption for the copyright to remain in effect. But if/when they pass, these laws won’t go into effect until November. So MOVE YOUR ASS, Ringo! I know you read this website.
• The Beatles: http://myspace.com/thebeatles