United Kingdom’s Copyright Law has Midlife Crisis, Regains Composure, Seems Surprisingly Lucid at 50 Years

Every once in awhile, there's a news story that reminds us why we all love the United States — and we ALL love the U.S.A, especially me! United States of Amazing, am I right about that? Am I right about that being the United States of Amazing? Sure I am. Where else can you get U.S. flags? And where else can your copyrights last longer than 50 years? That's right; right here in the red, white, and blue.

Copyrights, as always, are a hotly contested issue. In the U.S., copyright owners get the rights to works for their life plus 70 years. The majority of commercial music, film, and literature is 'work for hire,' meaning that a label, studio, or publisher owns the copyright (making them the owner of the material). Here, the term is 95 years, and it can be renewed when the term is up. That's the U.S., so when my free-style rap about pieces and walking gets released on Sony, I can die happy knowing that it will never enter the money-grubbing public domain. Here's an excerpt:

"So I flip through the pages and what should I find?

Holy shit, pieces before my eyes!

I need pieces

I'm walking, step one, step two

I'm walking down the street and damn, I see you

Cause I got to find these pieces in my mind

Walking down the street, one at a time

One foot forward and then the next one

It's taking me places because its lots of fun

If you don't really walk, then you gotta run

Fuck, walking. Walking!

So I'm walking again, yup, stepping down the street

Everybody sees me but I don't want to compete

With the running

That's why I choose to walk

Fuck, walking.

Walking! walking!"

You won't get that kind of protection in the United Kingdom, no sir. Worse, you won't get royalties! And isn't that what it's all about? The BBC is reporting that a recent push for British copyright law to parallel the U.S.' probably isn't going to happen. 50 years is the term for work for hire, and it is coming at a critical time for artists like Sir Cliff Richard and The Beatles. Richard's earliest recordings will lose their copyright in 2008, and The Beatles will be out of theirs just a few years after that, in roughly 2012.

An independent review, conducted for Chancellor Gordon Brown by Andrew Gowers, a former editor of the Financial Times, is recommending the copyright terms stay at 50 years. The British Phonographic Industry is up in arms over the possible move, and rightly so. To them, losing copyrights means losing money, and doing that on groups as profitable as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones isn't exactly fair.

"This outcome would mean the report had 'missed a great opportunity' to support the music industry," the chairman of the British Phonographic Industry claimed. I guess England will have to wait for my free-style rap. As you plainly can see above, it's their loss.

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