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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) BS: Should Music on the WWW be free? ;-) (53* d) RE: BS: Should Music on the WWW be free? ;-) 21 Nov 00

Bill D in an example of how a defense of the public domain is so often misconstrued as an attack on all copyright. Bill D's statements in fact don't respond to my views, only to his own prejudiced distortions of them.

Big Mick, I'm not "defending" anything except the public domain, from a centuries-long, brutal, rapine assault by the copyright maximalists.

You seem to think that the teenagers who download from Napster want "something for nothing", and that wanting something for nothing is always a contemptible desire. Passing over such difficulties as how everyone of us gets his life from his mother "for nothing", let us examine just who, as a result of recent developments in copyright, is getting something for nothing. When George Gershwin wrote "Rhapsody in Blue" he was relying on a maximum 56-year copyright term. He thought that term was sufficient protection to make it profitable for him to pursue a writing career. Gershwin died in 1937. In 1976 the copyright term was extended by 19 years. Gershwin was still dead; the extra 19 years can't possibly have encouraged him to write anything. In 1998, partly at the urging of the Gershwin Trust, the term of copyright was extended yet again for another 20 years. George Gershwin was just as dead in 1998 as he was in 1976 and 1938. He still hasn't pulled himself out of his grave to write any more songs. Gershwin's nephews, meanwhile, have already gotten a fortune from the extra 19 years. Now they'll get another fortune from the additional 20 years. So far as I know they have never written a note of music. Just who, then is getting "something for nothing" ?

Indeed, the copyright barons partly sold the term extension to Congress as a way the United States could get something for nothing. The NMPA claimed that the term could be extended "without causing harm to the interest of any person or entity" (NMPA Comment, Sept 22, 1993, Copyright Office Docket # RM 93-8). A group called the "Coalition of Creators and Copyright Owners" stated that "we can obtain 20 years of protection in the EC at virtually no cost to ourselves." (The same.) These robber-barons who trumpeted "something for nothing" as an advantage of the copyright term extension now condemn teenagers for wanting the same thing they tried to induce Congress to want. To me, their complaints sound hollow.

As for the individual artists whose works are being posted to the web without permission: where were they in 1998 ? If they aren't part of the solution to copyright maximalist extremism, then they are part of the problem.


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