August 17, 2011

"Copyright time bomb threatens music labels."

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Under a US copyright law from 1978, artists who sold themselves to the recording companies could reclaim their copyright, and the precious royalties that go with it, in 35 years. All they need to do is file "termination claims" at least two years in advance.

As the deadline approaches the ageing stars of rock'n'roll are reaching for their lawyers. Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Tom Waits and Kris Kristofferson are already reported to have filed claims with the US Copyright Office. Other music legends seem ready to join battle.
The record labels are attempting to fend off the devastation by arguing that the albums were "works for hire," which, under copyright law, would mean that the artists were employees working for the record companies and the companies therefore always owned their work product.... sort of like what The Byrds were singing about in "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n Roll Star":
So you want to be a rock and roll star
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Then take some time and learn how to play...

Then it's time to go downtown
Where the agent man won't let you down
Sell your soul to the company
Who are waiting there to sell plastic ware
Ha. That was back in 1967, when the idea that you were involved in making something plastic was supposed to be horrifying. That's why this was supposed to be so funny:



That's "The Graduate," which came out in 1967. 1967, that was a hell of a year. A year for shunning plastic. The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you?

Now, it's 2011. Do we have any sympathy for the record companies today? Their product isn't even plastic anymore. You know they've lost a lot of money in the switchover to digital. Or do you align with the artists? Are they still artists, these people who sing and play on the recordings?

148 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I prefer Charlie's rewrite of those lyrics, from their song Killer Cut.

kcom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kcom said...

"The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you?"

I was in San Francisco...

...but I was 5.

DADvocate said...

If the record companies can't make enough money in 35 years, screw 'em. Patents on medications don't last that long and are much more expensive to produce.

Go Bob, Kris, etc.

I was 16 in 1967, also, playing basketball, swimming and generally having fun.

TosaGuy said...

I am for whatever result where rich artists pay more in taxes. :)

Saint Croix said...

1967, that was a hell of a year. A year for shunning plastic. The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you?

In the womb! And it was nice.

MadisonMan said...

I was 6 in the Summer of '67, nearing 2nd grade. We went to Expo '67 in Montreal and also visited Quebec City (but did not stay at Chateau Frontenac).

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

.

IMHO, copyright should be like patent and have an expiration date.

.

Henry said...

In the original Sabrina (1954) plastic was good. There's a wonderful scene in which Humphrey Bogart hops up and down on an unbreakable plexi panel to demonstrate plastic's wonderful strength and flexibility.

If you think about for just a few seconds, plastic IS really amazing stuff.

Scott M said...

Do we have any sympathy for the record companies today?

Having been involved with the music industry from the radio, I know just how much the music industry changed when P2P started and Itunes really got established. It's been so bad for so long, I do almost feel sorry for them at this point.

traditionalguy said...

The serfs are acting up!

They sold their soul to the company store and now they want it back.

The law is on their side too.
Let's change the law fast!

Henry said...

Where were you?

I was two and on a cross-country train trip to California. It was the last time my parents took their vacation by rail.

Scott M said...

IMHO, copyright should be like patent and have an expiration date.

There's a difference. For instance, inventing something is, really, discovery more than just inventing a way to do something. You're unraveling the physical rules of the universe and how things work...that were already that way when you started your research and experimentation. It just remained to be figured out.

Music, novels, movies...completely different. These are works of art that only exist because of the inspiration, knowledge, and willpower of the artists.

Bryan Townsend said...

Wow,this is one of the most difficult problems I can think of in the music world. On the one hand, one wants artists to benefit from their creativity. On the other hand, a lot of pop music seems more like industrial product than art. On the third hand (heh), what should the true function of copyright be? Is it really to enrich already rich pop stars thirty-five years after the fact? The history goes something like this. With the invention of recording technology a few superstarts--originally people like Enrico Caruso--could leverage their product and make a lot more money. Instead of being limited just to a few live concerts, they could 'can' the product and sell it worldwide. This tended to wipe out all those artists who failed to achieve international recognition. The record companies, with a product unable to be reproduced outside of a cutting factory, were true gatekeepers. Only they could manufacture and sell records and you had to sign with them to get your music out there. Now, with the collapse of that model, artists can sell directly and the record companies are selling less and less. It is hard to see how this is going to play out. I have this hope that with the gatekeepers sidelined, a lot of middle-rank artists can find an audience again, but I'm not sure that is happening. My blog, where I usually discuss non-commercial issues about music, is here: http://themusicsalon.blogspot.com/

jimspice said...

Since we're doing plastic movie quotes, name the movie:

"Now, you listen to me! I don't want any plastics, and I don't want any ground floors, and I don't want to get married - ever - to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do."

rhhardin said...

Where were you?

I saw The Graduate in Saskatoon.

raf said...

I was 20, and in the Army.

I don't know that copyright in perpetuity accomplishes anything important. If we want to encourage more creativity, an expiring copyright would seem to provide a better incentive.

DADvocate said...

We went to Expo '67 in Montreal

MadMan - we went there, too. Loved it. We were there the week of the 6 Day Arab/Isreali War. The war was over and done with before we knew about it because most radio statins there spoke French. We went to eat at the Isreali pavillon the day after the war ended. We had lunch there and I ate hummus for the first time.

rhhardin said...

On copyright being unproductive rent-seeking, of which we see daily examples if any were needed, see the Michele Bodrin podcast at econtalk here.

It does not raise creativity except among politicians, corporate cronies and lawyers.

Dylan would not be flipping burgers.

Paddy O said...

The art should be with the artists.

As for 'work for hire', I strongly suspect that the artists were hired with pre-existing work, that then developed into a contract, and later work.

Maybe the record companies should learn to foster recording artists with lasting appeal.

The comparison to pharmaceuticals is apt. Patents make money, limited patents spur innovation, because you're always in need of something to get you through the next years.

Record companies have had an attitude just about making as much money as quickly as possible. Which is fine and good and all that, but there's no reason to cry if they're not making money either, especially if they're, in essence, always taking an adversarial stance against the consumer.

Limit their control, give rights to the artists, and innovation wins.

Scott M said...

Perhaps this should be categorized as a rappers time bomb. When all of these properties release, we're going to get a swell of sampled rap tracks using old rock music the likes of which we've never heard before. The rivers will run red, cats and dogs will live together...MASS HYSTERIA.

William said...
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William said...

For a good long time, I'm talking centuries, the most talented musicians and composers were not paid much more than other professionals. They could charge those within earshot of their music a fee, and that was it. In the 20th century they were finally able to cash in on the mass market, and they started to become fabulously wealthy. I think, not coincidentally, that it is about this time that singer/songwriters started to become living gods....I wonder if the cult of the rock star involves not the Dionysian worship of music but the Croesian worship of money.

Phil 3:14 said...

Is this like the NFL lock out, millionaires fighting with billionaires?

Reminiscent of this.

Clyde said...

I was 7 years old, living in Abilene, Texas. I spent a lot of that summer in the vacant lot across the street, catching horned toads. They were rumored to be able to spit blood from their eyes, but it never happened to me.

BAS said...

The law was made, there is nothing wrong with it per se, so let the artists have their songs. As for the recording companies, the business as it is is contracting, the artists don't have to support it. Saying these people were employees is humorous but not true.

Sheepman said...

Do we have any sympathy for the record companies today?
Of course not.

The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you?
I was 10 and just getting into what was happening in contemporary culture. Saw "The Graduate" when it came out and it made a big impression, both for the message and the "adult" content.

t-man said...

I read that the real money in music today is from concert ticket sales and related merchandise, not in album (or song) sales. That is why all of those aging boomer bands are going on "401(k)" tours.

Most are entertainers, not artists.

In the summer of '1967 I was around 6 months old.

gerry said...

Let's see...rock 'n roll promoted sex and drugs, frequently.

The resulting loss of life, family structure, economic stability, and political sanity deserves compensation.

I am a victim of rock 'n roll. Give me my money!

gerry said...

Oh, and I was sixteen.

chickenlittle said...

A year for shunning plastic. The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you?

I was where you are now, plus or minus 10 miles.

_____________
wv = "flyin" Yeah, 2 espresss later!

John said...

On August 2, 1967 I went into the Navy and was shipped to Great Lakes NTC.

So I was not in SF for the summer of love.

I had spent a couple months there in early 67 grooving on the concerts in the park and all that.

I lived with 5-6 others at 1045 Fell St by the panhandle.

As for copyright, I think it should expire in some reasonable amount of time (20 years? 30? Author's life?)

I would not have a problem with someone like a Disney renewing the copyright to Mickey etc.

My real problem is all the millions of works that cannot be reproduced because nobody can figure out who owns them.

John Henry

Carol_Herman said...

A little bit older. So I remember back in 1967, when kids were saying "don't trust anyone over 30." I still fit in.

Mark Twain actually went around the book publishers of his day. And, hired people who sold his books (before they were written), by going door-to-door. He might even have been ahead of encyclopedia salesmen?

But how would the artists sell their works if they weren't massed produced and sold through record companies? It's not like it is, today, where you can sell "downloads," and directly.

When there are deep pockets the lawyers come out of the woodwork.

And, one of the lawyers for one of the artists ... can sell them under the table in a rotten settlement deal. That's also happened before.

Meanwhile, the "inventor" of Love Beads crapped out at the table.

Kit said...

In 1967, I was 7, playing box hockey, freeze tag, exploring "The Woods" and biking an empty lot called "The Piles". Travel, that year, was probably to Washington Island.

Scott M said...

Given the time frame...was the pet rock copywrite protected?

Naomi said...

The recording companies were apparently happy when the law worked in their favor so need to just deal with it when that changes.

I wasn't born until seven years later, had no idea I was so much younger than most of the readers here.

Nonapod said...

I believe that current copyright durations are far, far too long. Ridiculously long copyright durations do far more harm than good for society. I think patent durations should also be reduced a bit as well (trademarks I'm more ambivalent about). At some point the only people benefiting from long durations are lawyers.

themightypuck said...

I'm with ScottM but I don't think copyright should extend to derivative works. That's more like patent. If I invent Harry Potter I get him for 10 years and then anyone can play. The actual works by JK Rowling should extent for the life of the artist and maybe ten years on top of that.

themightypuck said...

Trademark should last forever but should be limited to identification and confusion.

LakeLevel said...

I was 5 years old and planet earth was still sweetness and light. That all changed of course in 1968. I distinctly remember watching a Year in Review show at the end of 1968 and thinking "Holy crap, are all years going to be like this?" Thankfully, no.

themightypuck said...

Actually, given the long production times for movies and videogames lets make it 20 years for derivative works.

Scott M said...

Actually, given the long production times for movies and videogames lets make it 20 years for derivative works.

Video games, by their very nature, have much shorter shelf-lives than movies. Graphics change radically just about every two years. Some of the characters, ie Lora Croft, Mario, etc, are similar to movie characters and can have much longer runs, but the games themselves age much more quickly.

That being said, the greatest video game ever created by mankind was Tribes. Not sure how that's relevant, but I thought I'd toss that in.

EDH said...

One unintended impact: If authors can recapture these rights after 35 years in a way that increases their present income from royalties, will it speed the rate at which these old timers retire from touring and live performances?

chickenlittle said...

I wrote a blog post on the father of modern plastics: Link.

The hippies shunned it.

edutcher said...

One wonders why the "music" industry didn't do something about this earlier. One presumes they know what lobbyists are.

Then again, the "music" industry hasn't put out anything but noise since '67, so it's no great loss one way or the other.

I was 19 at Villanova.

'67 was the year all the overprivilieged hippie dippy types preached peace and love, but shouted down anybody who disagreed with them.

They said they hated materialism, but five years later, when the blush wore off, they had gone back to Daddy's stock brokerage firm (or plastics company) and were coking their brains out in the discos.

'67 was the year Uncle Saul and his friends made their big move and the mess we have today is the result.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

It ain't a work for hire unless the original recording contract specifically says so. Most of them in those days roughly said 'artist' will furnish 'label' with recordings for (number of) albums by (date). Unless the artists were actual employees of the label on a regular salary, that 'work for hire' wheeze shouldn't fly. Most weren't.

But that 1978 act also increased duration of that luscious cash flow to 'artist's life plus 50 years'. Now it's 'plus 70'. So the spoils are huge, and worth fighting over, and youse lawyers can argue on behalf of anything, can't youse?

Remember, the Constitution was more in the public interest, and pre-1978 it LIMITED copyrights to 14 years, renewable once, after which the deathless works would then land in the public domain for anyone to fold, bend, spindle and mutilate - or record and sell copies.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Heh - 1697 I graduated with BS, moved to Berkeley to play music, and enjoyed some wild excitements and tear gas.

Sixty Grit said...

I spent the summer of '67 working at my uncle's millwork shop on the Mississippi delta. It was hot, heavy work. Bobbi Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" was getting a lot of airplay. The song sure seemed relevant to my life that summer, but we have all moved on.

My uncle was a WWII Marine. He carried a .38 police special and used it. Sadly, he died in '68. As has been mentioned here, 1968 was a miserable year.

As I continue to work outdoors in the heat of summer I am reminded of those hot, dusty delta days. The passage of forty four years has not made the labor any easier.

Joe said...

Where I get confused in this, is that the article keeps conflating the copyright itself and the albums produced with that copyright. The notion that a musician is entitled to the copyright of a specific performance is complicated since very rarely did that musician actually produce the performance in entirety--do the studio musicians have claim to their performance? What about the recording engineer? Do the musicians get the original tape (or digital archives?)

Though much less so than a movie, an album is not the work of a single individual. In many cases, without the strong hand of a producer and executive producer insisting on a certain sound, brevity, quality, etc. the album would never have been as good if the musicians simply did it themselves.

Copyright law itself is totally messed up. Copyrights last much too long. The solution isn't to take the copyright from one and hand it to another like robin hood, but to take the copyright from one and hand it to humanity. (Several people here used the patent analogy incorrectly since that's what happens to patents.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...
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tree hugging sister said...

If we want to encourage more creativity, an expiring copyright would seem to provide a better incentive.

As an artist, who are you to decide whether I need any more encouragement in my creativity? If only one creation is MINE, why can't I keep it as long as I choose to, since it truly is only mine?

YOU'D like to keep that dollar you earn...

In the interest of full disclosure, I guard my designs jealously.

Dark Eden said...

No sympathy. Record companies as they currently exist are going to go the way of the buggy whip manufacturers and it will be better for everyone, especially the individual artists.

chickenlittle said...

Insufficiently Sensitive said...
Heh - 1697 I graduated with BS, moved to Berkeley to play music, and enjoyed some wild excitements and tear gas.

Dude, you're old! Like Sir Archy old! :)

kcom said...

What do you think of this example of copyright?

I Have a Dream...and a Copyright

Does the fact that it happened four years before the Summer of Love make a difference? That it was a public display on government property?

Sixty Grit said...

CL - he wrote that he graduated with BS!

chickenlittle said...

Althouse wrote: ...sort of like what The Byrds were singing about in "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n Roll Star"

I read somewhere that The Byrds were mocking The Monkees with that song. Is that true?

shake-and-bake said...

I spent the Summer of Love at Parris Island, South Carolina. Not a lot of love in the air.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you

I was 17. In San Francisco. Playing music... some of that copyrighted music (underage in bars and in THE Park). Got to see my old guitar teacher playing too!! Very cool. Of course by then he was getting 'big' and I was just a kid in the audience.

The Fillmore...those were the days. I saw many of the iconic groups before they were even anybody.

Later that year we (the people that I sang with) started doing some USO shows in California to get exposure. (We were pretty ambivilant about the war since many of our friends, relatives and significant others were in the military) We were going to go overseas but the US Government put the kabosh on that because we were still underage and the war was beginning to heat up. We went to Las Vegas instead and that whole experience turned me completely off from seiously pursuing a career as a professional.

In retrospect, that was a good thing.

m stone said...

edutcher: '67 was the year Uncle Saul and his friends made their big move and the mess we have today is the result.

Uncle Saul?

I was second year of college and remember Uncle Sam who would draft me in 1970.

Sixty Grit said...

DBQ - I met Jorma once in the early 90s - he seemed very down to earth and a reasonable sort of guy. Grace Slick, on the other hand...

Lem said...

PLASTICO

Roman said...

In the USAF, RAF Mildenhall, UK. Having a great time, almost got married.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Sixty

He was in college when I was taking lessons ('64) so I was just a little kid to him. One of many people he was teaching. No big deal...but cool to see him later as a performer. I knew him as Jerry then.

@ Insufficiently

Did you know Rolf Cahn? Might have been before your time there. Took folk and classical guitar lessons (along with my father) from him in Berkeley.

rocketeer67 said...

"The Summer of Love. I was 16. Where were you?"

In the final stages of gestation.

The Crack Emcee said...

Is Carol Herman writing your commentary now? Are you Carol Herman? Seems fishy:

This post reads in an awfully familiar manner,...

MikeinAppalachia said...

Jimspice-
That's from "It's a Wonderful Life".
And I was 20 and in the US Army.

wv: skary-certainly is.

MadisonMan said...

Since althouse is such a frequent photographer, I thought I should post this.

Bob_R said...

@DBQ - Jorma is a very good teacher. Patient, articulate, breaks things down quite well. I have several of his DVDs and a friend is taking lessons by Skype now. Was he good in '64?

DADvocate said...

That it was a public display on government property?

Your thinking that a public display on government property should somebow affect copyrights comes from where? If you suggesting such stuff shouldn't be able to be copyrighted, then a band playing an original song for the firs time in a public park couldn't copyright the song.

Bruce Hayden said...

The legal side of this should be interesting. I think that the Work For Hire claims is a bit weak, but probably not quite frivolous. I would expect that the record companies would also try to go for legislation, but that opens up Takings issues, which you would know more about than I.

Charlie said...

I was 11 and buying 45s in Rockford Illinois.

BTW, Jorma (and Hot Tuna) have a new CD coming out. It's pretty good!

sonicfrog said...

traditionalguy said...

The serfs are acting up!

They sold their soul to the company store and now they want it back.

The law is on their side too.
Let's change the law fast!


Careful what you ask for... With this group of lawyers in congress, extending those copyrights could be seen as a stimulus package to help the economy!!! :-)

sonicfrog said...

Oh, in 67, I was two, so I was doing what two year old's do... Or is that do-do???

dd harris said...

I was 14 turning 15 at the start of summer of 1967, 25 miles east of San Francisco. Country Joe and the Fish played my high school that summer right around the same time they played the Monterey Pop festival.

Yes the Byrds were making fun of the Monkees on "So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star", which was kind of funny since the Byrds didn't play on their own first single.

Phil 3:14 said...

If these ages are indicative of the general readership of Althouse then this is a Boomer blog.

traditionalguy said...

I was a Graduate on 1967 myself, facing the Viet Nam draft calls and getting into Law School, both at Emory.

I remember the mass dirty hippie invasion around Tenth Street a few blocks from my Grandparents home in Ansley Park.

My taste in women did not include hippies. We were used to Agnes Scott debutants.

But the music was world class and has never been beaten. And then drugs destroyed the music.

Kirk Parker said...

"Work for hire"? And won't the IRS be interested to hear about this, so long after the fact! Think of all those unpaid payroll taxes...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But the music was world class and has never been beaten. And then drugs destroyed the music.

And destroyed the musicians. Another reason to get out.

Scott M said...

If these ages are indicative of the general readership of Althouse then this is a Boomer blog.

And, thus, responsible for all the problems we currently face. Not all Boomers, just the readership here. And not all the problems, just the problems here on this blog.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Bob R

Re: Jorma

Yes, he was very patient and a good teacher. He must have been because he could teach ..even me, during the short time I took lessons (seems like about 6 months but who can remember that long ago)

I should reconnect and get the DVDs.

Of all the things the boomers have done, the music is the one stand out accomplishment. IMO

Bruce Hayden said...

I was 17, in high school, and getting ready for college. I was totally oblivious to what was going on in SF. We were into ski racing, fast cars, etc. Vietnam, race, drugs, etc. didn't really hit me until 1968, after casualties in Vietnam had already crested.

So, 1968 was really the year where I saw the most changes - first time I encountered drugs, saw protests, entered college, fell in love (ok, lust), was away from home, etc.

Chip S. said...

But the music was world class and has never been beaten. And then drugs destroyed the music.

Did you, by any chance, go on to start VH1?

Pragmatist said...

I am sure that losing the copyright to such an illustrous list of golden oldies will really hurt the catalogues. They just never leave the top of the charts, as much as we would want them to. Ask the average 19 year old who spends the most on music who Tom Petty is and he will probably guess a NASCAR driver or maybe a reality series star. I think they can withstand the blow.

Kirby Olson said...

I thought it was meant to symbolize commercial inauthenticity as opposed to authenticity, which many seemed to think that they wanted and could achieve then by dropping out and taking artificial substances that would rewire or at least destroy their minds.

Scott M said...

But the music was world class and has never been beaten.

I hear this a lot from people in their sixties, but not many others. By who's measure? For me, the best "era" of music is roughly 1991 to 1996, but I'm wise enough to know that's because I was full of piss'n'vinegar at the time, young, and single.

I distinctly remember a Boomer Major (a major Boomer?) asking me about a newly released album I was listening to constantly by a brand new band. After I mentioned that it was "Ten" from Pearl Jam, he scoffed, cited the late sixties as the best ever, and said nobody would know who Pearl Jam was in twenty years. Coincidentally, that album just turned 20 years old and still sells fairly well.
I remember the same scoffs from Boomers regarding bands like U2 and Metallica.

Point being, it's all relative and highly subjective. The Boomers, being Boomers and Boomer-centric, seem to have a tough time grasping that.

chickenlittle said...

@MadisonMan:
Thanks for chilling the link at 11:31. Of course Rodney King's arrest had little aesthetic value now did it? Not unless you take the meaning of the aesthetic apart.

Chip S. said...

@tradguy--Did you know any of these Agnes Scott women? (30 minutes long, but pretty interesting stuff--including an electric baby-food dish!)

chickenlittle said...

@Scott M: Pop music is cumulative. It is possible that both boomertunes and 90's music are good.

raf said...

As an artist, who are you to decide whether I need any more encouragement in my creativity?

I don't really care how creative or uncreative you choose to be. The stated reason for patent and copyright law (iirc) was related to the benefits to society of providing a reward for creative accomplishments. If "benefit to society" is a valid reason, then it is valid to ask if the length of copyright has an effect on this benefit. If "benefit to society" is not a valid reason, then why should there be a copyright at all? By the way, everytime you sing "Happy Birthday", do you send a royalty to the copyright owner?

chickenlittle said...

Phil 3:14 said...
If these ages are indicative of the general readership of Althouse then this is a Boomer blog.

Heh, maybe also a Bloomer Bog©?

sonicfrog said...

Pragmatist said...

Ask the average 19 year old who spends the most on music who Tom Petty is and he will probably guess a NASCAR driver or maybe a reality series star. I think they can withstand the blow.

Actually, I sub a lot in high school. Most of the kids listen to the music of their parent era and very much know who Tom Petty is. You'd be surprised just how many kids PREFER our generations music to that of their own.

Ver Word: truism!

Seriously!

So I am obviously right about this!!! :-)

Pamela said...

I was 5 and growing up in Los Angles learning to ride my bike near Griffith Park. Watching all the love ins and all the hippies and thinking that I need to take a long hot bath.

ken in sc said...

I was a full-time student at the University of Alabama and working three part-time jobs. I missed the entire year.

ken in sc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

Pop music is cumulative. It is possible that both boomertunes and 90's music are good.

This is true. There are good bands, good musicians and good music not segregated by genere or by decade....good being defined as what "I" like to listen to, since it IS all about me...

From Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Cold Blood, Led Zepplin, White Snake, The O'Kanes, Queen, Motley Crue, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Nora Jones etc. (explains my gigantic collection of records, tapes and CDs) Pretty much everything except rap, which I just can't get into as music. (Poetry maybe)

I sort of fell off of knowing the bands names and artists after I no longer had a younger person in my house, but I still know what I like to hear when it comes up.

Some Boomers are so stuck in the 60's (as evidenced by the nostalgia for protesting in Wisconsin). They need to get out more and get over themselves.

In Reno, on our annual hot rod pilgrimage, we saw an old guy with a tee shirt that said: "Pearl Harbor Survivor. Been there done that"

So cool. The boomers who have grown up and moved on should have a similar one. The 60's ...Been there done that.

DADvocate said...

Most of the kids listen to the music of their parent era...

My son graduated from high school last May. He and his friends knows music from my era better than I do.

Bruce Hayden said...

FYI - the definition of a Work for Hire from 17 USC 101:

A “work made for hire” is—
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a “supplementary work” is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an “instructional text” is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities.
In determining whether any work is eligible to be considered a work made for hire under paragraph (2), neither the amendment contained in section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106–113, nor the deletion of the words added by that amendment—
(A) shall be considered or otherwise given any legal significance, or
(B) shall be interpreted to indicate congressional approval or disapproval of, or acquiescence in, any judicial determination,
by the courts or the Copyright Office. Paragraph (2) shall be interpreted as if both section 2(a)(1) of the Work Made For Hire and Copyright Corrections Act of 2000 and section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106–113, were never enacted, and without regard to any inaction or awareness by the Congress at any time of any judicial determinations
.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that for a work to be a Work for Hire, it either needs to be (1) created within the scope of formal employment (with all the withholdings, etc.) or (2) be a specially commissioned work, with a written contract, in certain very narrow areas, etc.

Interestingly though, then recordings are probably not audiovisual works, since back then, there were no images associated with them (again in section 101). Also, do their contracts specifically call the works "Works for Hire"? Should be interesting.

Bruce Hayden said...


Your thinking that a public display on government property should somebow affect copyrights comes from where? If you suggesting such stuff shouldn't be able to be copyrighted, then a band playing an original song for the firs time in a public park couldn't copyright the song
.

There isn't any way that it would affect copyright. The closest thing is that works by the U.S. government are within the public domain. But that doesn't cover contractors, nor bands playing on the Mall (I do remember though, when the Beach Boys played there for the 4th of July). Now some contractors have statutory requirements outside of the Copyright Act to give some rights to the government, but this is for government funded research, not music performances.

Ann Althouse said...

"I read somewhere that The Byrds were mocking The Monkees with that song. Is that true?"

Who knows? It's been said, but at the time they said it was about the rock and roll industry generally (which makes much more sense to me).

I remember when Jim McGuinn said that "8 Miles High" was about flying to London in a Lear jet, and not about drugs at all. Is that true?

Franklin said...

It's a pity they can't both lose.


Sorry - I like music as much as the next guy, but a lot of these people are just fucking jackasses. You pluck strings on an instrument, dude, you're not a fucking god.

It's like TO or Ochocinco or LeBron - you catch a leather ball and run fast, you're not some kind of savior.

Bruce Hayden said...

There's a difference. For instance, inventing something is, really, discovery more than just inventing a way to do something. You're unraveling the physical rules of the universe and how things work...that were already that way when you started your research and experimentation. It just remained to be figured out.

Music, novels, movies...completely different. These are works of art that only exist because of the inspiration, knowledge, and willpower of the artists
.

We will try this again (Blogger ate my last attempt)

I think that you overstate the differences. Nevertheless, (utility) patents protect functionality, and exclude aesthetics, while copyrights protect original expression, but exclude functionality.

traditionalguy said...

Chip S...Thanks for the memories.I loved the southern accents.

I did not recognize those Scotties.

Emory is 5 miles from Agnes Scott and is coed while Scott is a girl's school.

So our library was a target for hunter teams who came every night to Study what men looked and acted like other than their rich father who wanted them in a safe school.

I worked a part time job at the Library Desk night shift one semester, and around closing time I met dozens of Scotties who were very smart, well dressed and interested in a cute male for some biology lab work with a potential Doctor or Lawyer as the test subject.

How else could they learn what they wanted? And it was definitely not drugs.

Those were the days of Linda Ronstatd belting out, "It's so easy to fall in love." And it was.

Bruce Hayden said...

I believe that current copyright durations are far, far too long. Ridiculously long copyright durations do far more harm than good for society. I think patent durations should also be reduced a bit as well (trademarks I'm more ambivalent about). At some point the only people benefiting from long durations are lawyers.

I will agree on the copyright side, but not the patent side. (Utility) Patent term is essentially 20 years from original application filing date, and the USPTO can easily eat up 1/4 of that during prosecution. Also, you pay maintenance fees every 3 years or so to keep a patent in force, and those go up significantly the longer you do keep it in force. Term was supposed to be somewhere around the previous 17 years from issue when the law was changed a bit over a decade ago, but it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.

Scott M said...

I don't dispute the legalese of the matter, BH. My point was more toward the origin of works. Inventions are simply tapping into the rules of the physical universe that everyone has pretty much equal access to. A truly unique work of art was only accessed by one person's mind.

Peter said...

It's hard to believe that Disney won't be able to buy enough politicians to fix this.

Pamela said...

I remember when Jim McGuinn said that "8 Miles High" was about flying to London in a Lear jet, and not about drugs at all. Is that true?

Ann I think that was indeed about flying, and his fear of flying.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes the Byrds were making fun of the Monkees on "So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star", which was kind of funny since the Byrds didn't play on their own first single."

But the first thing the song says is get and electric guitar and take some time and learn how to play.

Anyway the producers in those days often used studio musicians even when the band could play. There are many of these substitutions even for famously great musicians.

But I remember when that song came out, and it felt like the Byrds were being self-deprecating and/or bemoaning what the record industry does to musicians.

The Monkees were an easy and obvious target, and it doesn't improve the meaning of the song to think of it as just going after them. It was a more general protest/social commentary song.

mariner said...

I have no sympathy at all for the record companies.

Eff 'em -- that's what they did to performers for decades.

mariner said...

Remember, the Constitution was more in the public interest, and pre-1978 it LIMITED copyrights to 14 years, renewable once, after which the deathless works would then land in the public domain for anyone to fold, bend, spindle and mutilate - or record and sell copies.

Then Disney figured out the ROI on Senators and Representatives.

Ann Althouse said...

"Anyway the producers in those days often used studio musicians even when the band could play. There are many of these substitutions even for famously great musicians."

I'm thinking specifically about The Yardbirds there and the producer Mickie Most. (Because I was reading the Wikipedia article on Herman's Hermits recently.) I assume there are many examples of that sort of thing.

People used to think it was funny to say: "Father, son and Mickie Most."

chickenlittle said...

It was a more general protest/social commentary song.

FWIW, you're right.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann I think that was indeed about flying, and his fear of flying."

Fear of flying? How then do you explain "The Lear Jet Song"?

Ann Althouse said...

I put up a new post on that arrest for lack of aesthetic value thing.

Peter said...

"Producers, backing vocalists, session musicians - all could be entitled to a share of copyright."

The net effect, then, might be that boomer music (or at least lawful, commercial versions of it0 would just disappear forever as it would become all but impossible for anyone wishing to use these recordings in any commercial way to obtain uncontested rights to use them.

Chip S. said...

It was a more general protest/social commentary song.

For the most part, music combined with social commentary is like a combination floor wax/dessert topping.

Pamela said...

Gene Clark, one of the songwrites of the band had to leave the band over various fears, one was flying


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Miles_High

gpm said...

Graduating from grammar school on the South Side of Chicago.

"Cherish" was the big number at all the graduation parties.

--gpm

David said...

Millionaires vs. Millionaires.

"You say you want a revolution . . . "

At least the Beatles were honest about it--and they never "sold themselves" to the record companies (just to Michael Jasckson.)

David said...

Cherish?

Oh, yuckyuckyuck.

David said...

1967?

First year of law school.

One of the most interesting and satisfying years of my life, while the rest of the world was going down the tubes.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Dust Bunny Queen-

I did know Rolf Cahn, and his 'Cabale' club on San Pablo, and Barbara Dane. What's your sign, man?

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

I would expect that the record companies would also try to go for legislation, but that opens up Takings issues, which you would know more about than I.

They've already far exceeded fair dealings with that 1978 act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They bought enough Congresscritters to obscenely enrich themselves at the expense of the public domain, by those near-indefinite extensions of copyright terms. Said Congresscritters were all for 'protecting' copyright holders, at the expense of the public they were supposed to represent.

The Constitional principle was one of granting a LIMITED monopoly to reward creativity, not a near-indefinite one to reward special pleading.

tree hugging sister said...

By the way, everytime you sing "Happy Birthday", do you send a royalty to the copyright owner?

As you well know, singing it to your three year old for his birthday doesn't qualify as a violation. I'm a little bemused by the snideness.

Why should "protecting right of ownership" not be as valid a reason for copyright as your "benefit to society"? I have no other recourse to protect my work.

And there are a lot of copycats out there, unfortunately.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

By the way, everytime you sing "Happy Birthday", do you send a royalty to the copyright owner?


The singist doesn't, but public venues where it's sung (restaurants mostly) certainly do. They pay royalties to nongovernmental 'performing rights societies' (ASCAP, BMI), who extract them (with vigorous legal enforcement) from venues on behalf of copyright owners.

More crookedness: said Societies monitor top-40 AM radio and list what's played there. They they split up royalties from such airplay PLUS restaurants, stadiums, bars etc, and divide them between the owners of the rights to songs appearing on the list.

A composer who retains copyright and publishing rights to her own creations might play them exclusively at her bar/restaurant/theater gigs. She'll never see a nickel of those performing royalties, which go only to those on the top-40 lists.

raf said...

Why should "protecting right of ownership" not be as valid a reason for copyright as your "benefit to society"?

Wasn't meant to be snide, just illustrative. If right of ownership is the principle involved, then singing Happy Birthday is a transgression. The owner has rights, you know. One question in my mind is: exactly what is owned? I can sort of see the songwriter claiming the lyrics, but have trouble with the performer claiming a recording of the performance. The performer is paid for performing, either to an audience or for a recording studio. The manufacture and distribution of recordings is a thing separate from the original performance. Now, the payment for the performance (in a studio) could include a share of sales, but that is a separate issue. Claiming a right to the reproduction independent of the contract seems like a stretch.

I'm afraid that the whole intellectual property system is headed for a crash on the grounds of unenforceability, anyway.

chickenlittle said...

@Pamela: I read somewhere that David Crosby had an irrational loathing of the sound of the banjo. If he said it, I'd like to pin it down.

The banjo never really found a home in mainstream rock, though rock guitarists like Keith Richards restrung their guitars to tune and play in open-G.

I think that the times being what they were, lots hip and liberal rock muscians just couldn't bear being associated with hillbillies (even though the banjo is African in origin). And look how that persists to this day.

MikeinAppalachia said...

Scott M-
IIRC, U2 came out with an album in about 1981-82. My car pool of the time was all "Boomers" and older and thought it was a "good group". However, you are probably correct about the reaction to Pearl Jam.

Scott M said...

However, you are probably correct about the reaction to Pearl Jam.

The same group of NCO's and officers also head Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Alice In Chains in equal disregard.

Youngblood said...

"By the way, everytime you sing 'Happy Birthday', do you send a royalty to the copyright owner?"

No, I don't. I don't pay anybody when I sing in the shower, either. Since there's no obligation to pay royalties in the context of private performances, what's your point?

jimspice said...

If it weren't for Sonny Bono, we'd be able to some pretty decent quality royalty-free tracks from the mid-thirties by now.

Hazy Dave said...

Is this like the NFL lock out, millionaires fighting with billionaires?

If the billionaires paid the superstars on the championship team upfront, and the lower-paid players only if they hired lawyers and accountants to audit the books. Players would be charged uniform fees, stadium rental, postage and office expenses, and promotional costs. These would be deducted from the superstars, too, of course. Payment rates would need to be kept low because of all the money owed by the second and third tier players that would never "recoup"...

Yeah, in a whole lotta ways, the analogy isn't very good. But few rock stars have nearly as much money as most people seem to think they all have. And record companies, ASCAP, BMI, RIAA, and the rest, are optimized to collect money, not to disburse it.

E.M. Davis said...

All your bass belong to us.

-Record companies.

Eric said...

IMHO, copyright should be like patent and have an expiration date.

They do expire. I think at this point they expire seventy years from the death of the creator. It's a bit long, but I do thing copyrights shouldn't expire until a few decades after the creator dies.

Jerry Pournelle, who most people know as a science fiction author, had some good posts on this. Most authors and musicians aren't making a lot of money from their work, and they depend on residuals in their old age.

themightypuck said...

One thing I like to do is watch all the poor hobbyists with a guitar, an sm58, a webcam and garageband play covers on youtube. This doesn't seem a problem to me because music is so tied up with performance. The Gipsy Kings excellent cover of Hotel California isn't taking food from The Eagles' mouths. The Rolling Stone's gained nothing by fucking over the Bittersweet Symphony guys.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tom scott said...

I was 25 years old, in the Air Force, and in Madison on my way to San Angelo, Texas in October of '67. Madison was in the middle of the Dow Chemical protests at UW-M. So I guess Madson is today much as it was then. As a military member I could not wait to get out of Wisconsin. I never returned except for visits.

Revenant said...

For instance, inventing something is, really, discovery more than just inventing a way to do something. You're unraveling the physical rules of the universe and how things work...that were already that way when you started your research and experimentation. It just remained to be figured out.

Music, novels, movies...completely different.

Not so. When you write a great song, all you're doing is discovering the already-existing fact that people find that particular sequence of sounds to be pleasing.

Hey, it makes as much sense as the idea that, e.g., the Salad Shooter was a previously-existing aspect of physical law just waiting to be discovered.

Revenant said...

If you think about it, "plastics" was actually really good advice for 1967.

rcocean said...

Copyrights are Government granted and enforced monopolies. (See Jefferson)

So you'd think 'Libertarians' would be all against them, especially the insane time extensions.

But they aren't of course.

Funny dat.

jr565 said...

Any rich artist, like a Bruce Springsteen, who is on the left and decries rich greedy peop,e (thinking of John Lennon with his odious, "imagine no possessions, it's easy if you try") should donate any future royalties they would get once they have access to their songs again and donate it to paying down the debt.
Maybe if they're starving and dirt poor like the old blues artists, THEN give them their richly deserved royalties. But if they're like your typical rock stars who lived large on the money they did get, well we need some wealth redistribution bitches. They may have written the songs, but those fat cats don't deserve their spoils when we need the money to fund govt programs.

jr565 said...

Jimspice:

"Now, you listen to me! I don't want any plastics, and I don't want any ground floors, and I don't want to get married - ever - to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do."


George Bailey from it's a wonderful life. Hee haw!

jr565 said...

Ann wrote:
But I remember when that song came out, and it felt like the Byrds were being self-deprecating and/or bemoaning what the record industry does to musicians.

The Monkees were an easy and obvious target, and it doesn't improve the meaning of the song to think of it as just going after them. It was a more general protest/social commentary song.


I don't think they were picking on the monkees, but if they were they went really the ones to talk considering they are basically know as the guys who covered bob Dylan, just as the monkees are the cute guys on a silly tv show that don't write their own songs.
Now, before any says I'm diminishing either band let me say that both were great. Yes, the Byrds did a lot of Dylan songs, but for me at any rate, they actually made songs I wouldn't care to listen to into pop gems with jangly guitar from one of the guitar virtuosos of the day, and truly luscious harmonies from David Crosby (who is an absolute douche otherwise). And or
Eta not forget that Jim mcquinn basically gave Tom petty his voice, and that they were also all very talented musicians, and had many good songs not written by various members of the group. And in addition to bringing in folk rock as a genre, they also spearheaded country rock when gram parsons was on board.
And the monkees was a very funny show. And the people writing their songs were top notch. And they all were at least decent singers, and a few of their songs rank in the top of 60's pop songs. If they couldn't pull it off, they wouldn't have been hits.

jamboree said...

They never should have been as far in hock as they were, so yeah, artists should own their stuff. It's just the death rattle from passing of the boomers main art form mirrored throughout society in a 73 million different ways. The repackaging of the boomers was earning the record companies so much money over the years that they stopped nurturing new talent whose back catalog will sell down the line.

Heart_Collector said...

Slavery is wrong.

Anthony said...

1967 was a great year for me. I was born.

james conrad said...

Where were you?

I was in washington dc, just discharged from the army, 20 years old and wondering what the hell i was going to do. It was a hell of a year!

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jgm said...

Come one, come all, come one come all, to Expo '67 Montreallllll.

I was 9.