February 21, 2017

"Because of a recent copyright dispute, Bulgarian National Radio, the public broadcaster for the country, has been limited to airing music recorded before 1946."

"And... [t]he station had a 20 percent increase in listenership in January, the first month in which the change was in effect, over December’s numbers...."
“We had some concerns but people keep calling to tell us that they really enjoy the music,” said Nikoleta Elenkova, Bulgarian National Radio’s spokeswoman.
Musicautor — which controls the distribution rights for "millions of Bulgarian and foreign songs" — had raised its fees from $271,000 to $978,000 and got its bluff called.

What if you had to forgo everything copyrighted and were limited to what's in the public domain? It's hard to limit yourself, but what if it were forced on you? After a month on that diet, you might think this is great.

38 comments:

sinz52 said...

I was a copyeditor for the draft of a historical novel that tried to use old song lyrics to help set the ambiance of the period.

I had the sad duty to inform the author that most of those song lyrics were copyrighted, and he could not include them in his novel without the consent of the artist's estate or the publisher. He failed to get such consent in time for publication and had to delete them, which hurt the storyline.

John Tuffnell said...

Imagine a world without lawyers.

Unknown said...

Google Books is the best entertainment value. All the major works of literature pre-1920 are on there. They are all free. I don't go to the movies, I don't watch TV, I just read old books.

Charles Kramer said...

I was always amazed to see the number of Disney executives who testified in support of copyright extension when the overwhelming majority of their animated films were based on public domain materials (and for which they had to pay no royalty).

EDH said...

Lends a new meaning to "70s music".

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Unknown said...

Google Books is the best entertainment value. All the major works of literature pre-1920 are on there. They are all free. I don't go to the movies, I don't watch TV, I just read old books.

So how are you going to understand what it's like to be an undocumented Hispanic Muslim transgender underage prostitute?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I would think it would be a good PR stunt for some current artist to grant Bulgarian National Radio the rights to play their music.

SF said...

In terms of music, I'd be reasonably happy listening to pre-1923 composed music (anything after which is public domain would just be a bonus). It would include lots of great classical music, loads of great traditional music, the complete works of Stephen Foster, most (?) of Scott Joplin, most (?) of Sousa, etc.

However, being forced to listen to just music whose recordings are in the public domain would kind of suck, because pre-1950 recording technology was lacking, and post-1950 most things aren't going to be public domain.

The Drill SGT said...

My standard comment on music is:

"The only things worth listening to, were written between 1580 and 1980. A man's entitled to a little bigotry"

damikesc said...

Perhaps it's time to revisit IP law and cut down the protection time tremendously. Copyright and trademark protections were never meant to be permanent but they are becoming that.

10 or 15 years is ample time to reap your rewards.

John said...

Shades of the BMI/ASCAP war.

For those who don't know, look it up. Fascinating story of how the sausage gets made.

John Henry

Bryan Townsend said...

I had a friend, a virtuoso Baroque instrument player, who used to say that music has been in decline since the death of Fran├žois Couperin le grand: 1733. I sometimes wonder if he wasn't correct.

William said...

Popular music loses its appeal after a certain age. I don't mean to be snobbish. I suppose there are as many talented singers and composers now as there ever were. It's just that the present is a foreign place, and they do things different there. The music, rhythms of love, and idioms of those who live in the present are very different than mine. I prefer to ignore them as much as possible........Amy Winewhouse was a very talented singer. She made two or three albums and wrote a couple of good songs. I prefer Ella Fitzgerald. Ella recorded enough music to last out my lifetime.

Wilbur said...

90% of the music I listen to in the car is pre-1946: Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, the Mills Brothers, Bessie Smith, etc. But I don't put down today's music.

Jane the Actuary said...

When I was a senior in high school, I had a car with only an AM radio, and the only radio station that played music was the Big Band station. Good stuff. Now, I suppose, I'd have to be developing a taste for mariachi music.

JimT Utah said...

My Pandora account has four pop stations: Helen Forrest Radio, Jo Stafford Radio, Joni James Radio, and Karen Carpenter Radio. The first one has a substantial number of artists from before my birth, e.g. Marlene Dietrich. The more contemporary stations feature a considerable amount of music you can't hear in Bulgaria, but I could live without it, if only because I would still have the Big Bands, Ella, and Frank.

robother said...

Pop music, like Hollywood movies, seems to be getting ever more formulaic. I wonder if the money guys and the quants who work for them, have reduced it to such a predictable thing, derivative of "what's worked before" that they are destroying their own market. Or is it just that the artists themselves are products of narrowing experience (no training in or exposure to classical, big band, old weird America)?

tcrosse said...

John Pizzarelli's excellent show Radio Deluxe will occasionally limit itself to recordings 1945 and earlier. This is certainly no hardship.

Hal Shimmin said...

Bulgaria is ahead of the U.S. The Copyright Act of 1976 created a copyright category called Sound Recordings that now provides federal copyright protection for CD's, MP3's, WAV files, records, and other music recordings made after February 15, 1972. These Sound Recordings receive copyright protection for 70 years after the death of the last surviving author. But the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act left copyright protection for sound recordings fixed or published before February 15, 1972, remaining under state law until 2067.

The earliest that copyright protection will expire for any Sound Recording in the USA is 2067. http://www.pdinfo.com/copyright-law/public-domain-sound-recordings.php

Sebastian said...

"music has been in decline since the death of Fran├žois Couperin le grand: 1733" A bit early -- the B minor Mass wasn't quite complete, Goldberg Variations, WTC II, Musical Offering, and Art of Fugue yet to come -- but close enough. A few upward bumps since then, but not many after 1946.

rcocean said...

"Popular music loses its appeal after a certain age."

Your taste in Popular Musial seems to be imprinted in your teenage years. The stuff you listened to between ages 10-18 seems to be "normal" and everything else is either Boring old people stuff (music before then) or raucous noise that only young people listen to (music after that).

Or maybe that just describes the boomers.

rcocean said...

"The earliest that copyright protection will expire for any Sound Recording in the USA is 2067."

That's obviously in violation of the Constitution, no matter what the current SCOTUS says. Of course, all you need to do is bribe enough congressmen and they can get it extended till the year 3000.

buwaya said...

"undocumented Hispanic Muslim transgender underage prostitute?"

Leave out "Muslim" and "transgender" and there is an awful lot pre-1920 that covers that situation.

Check out the genre of the Spanish copla or cuple. There are lots of others. There was plenty of popular music that came out of the 19th-20th century demimonde, not just jazz.

Muslim is a separate matter, but it does exist, though perhaps not quite so specifically.

"transgender" is a genuine modernism though.

buwaya said...

A Spanish copla that probably would please Laslo.

Vaselina

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt2IRPxJerE

southcentralpa said...

I own Franck Pourcel CDs, so I may not be the person to ask.

(Enjoy older music? Want to freak out hipsters? Stream KNCT, a public radio station with the "beautiful music" format.)

John said...

I don't have a problem with copyright and especially trademark going on forever.

Provided that they are used and positively maintained. For example, a 20 year initial registration of copyright with 20 year renewals available for some kind of nominal fee.

The big problem I see with copyright is not that it goes on forever. It is that it is automatic. Lots of good books and other stuff that should be in print but nobody knows who owns it to get the permissions. Orphan works they are called.

As long as Coke wants to use the name and other related IP, I don't have any problem with them doing it forever under trademark.

When Coke goes out of business or stops using it, the trademark should be become public domain.

John Henry

John said...

Wilbur,

Maybe we should swap playlists?

I have Bob Wills, Hoagy Carmichael, Louis Armstrong, Andrews Sisters, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Louis Prima, Anita O'Day and others from that era on mine.

Fooey on post-1960 music. For the most part. Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Benson and AATW and some others are pretty good. But they mostly do pre-1960 style music.

John Henry

John said...

That's obviously in violation of the Constitution, no matter what the current SCOTUS says.

Why, RCOcean?

The Constitution says a limited time. Doesn't say a short limited time. 1,000 years is a limited time. I'd still allow renewal, though.

John Henry

SukieTawdry said...

I think the magic number for us this year is 1942. I have a number of pre-1942 recordings. Though I wouldn't part with them for anything, the sound quality is generally terrible. I wonder, does the public domain countdown start again on a re-mastered recording?

Mark said...

he could not include them in his novel without the consent of the artist's estate or the publisher.

What a great system that results in lose-lose outcomes. Now the copyright holder gets nothing - not even a mention of the work's existence, as if it never existed. Self-destructive greed.

We no longer have a copyright system, really. We have a copyspite system, where holders cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Mark said...

As long as Coke wants to use the name and other related IP, I don't have any problem with them doing it forever under trademark.

When Coke goes out of business or stops using it, the trademark should be become public domain.


So, did you go and pay a royalty for use of that company's copyright/trademark in your usage here? Of course not. It would be absurd. But that really is the logic of these extreme IP laws and claims.

SukieTawdry said...

We no longer have a copyright system, really. We have a copyspite system, where holders cut off their noses to spite their faces.

One of my favorite TV shows was Northern Exposure. The reason why it's never been seen anywhere since it's demise is because they had copyrighted music sprinkled throughout the typical episode. The producers say they couldn't possibly afford all the royalties they'd have to pay if the show were put into syndication.

Mark said...

Is the patent and copyright clause for the exclusive benefit of authors/inventors, etc.? Or is it to promote progress? To promote progress generally, or progress by that one author/inventor? An overly-long monopoly stifles progress and invention, it does not promote it, and thus is counter to the constitutional clause.

Fair compensation for authors and inventors, yes. Allowing them to become extortionists, no.

Balfegor said...

If a philanthropist felt like it, he could probably set up a foundation that would pay musicians to make high quality modern recordings of almost every piece of classical music and release them into the public domain. The sheet music is out of copyright, and we have a surplus of talented and competent highly-trained classical musicians, most of whom do not have recording contracts or play in orchestras, etc., or do anything to monetize their skill. Some soloists might even be willing to do it for free just to get their name out there. I would donate to something like that.

Maybe it already exists? Anyone know of such a project?

buwaya said...

"If a philanthropist felt like it, he could probably set up a foundation that would pay musicians to make high quality modern recordings of almost every piece of classical music and release them into the public domain. "

That may put a lot of musicians who DO have recording contracts and are in orchestras out of work. And ruin the market for professional musicians in these genres forever, possibly.

jaed said...

Why? I have three versions of the Goldberg variations, and multiple versions of many other classical works. Each performance is unique, and different performances can reveal many different facets of the music. (The quality of the music itself is a factor in this, of course, but even pop pieces have been covered multiple times with the different covers selling well.)

The "Big Box" series of digital music does something like this. It's not public domain, but it is ten or fifteen hours of classical music for $3, in performances ranging from good to excellent.

OregonGuy said...

Big band, Gershwin, jazz and the standards. We have a lush music history.
.

grimson said...

There's the old joke: Each generation thinks the music of the following generation is worse than theirs. So far, they have been correct.