December 12, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

I see dead people

On the 7th December, the day after the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property was released, the PPL took out a full page ad in the Financial Times which included 4,500 names of musicians who have "banded together" to "demand" term extension on sound recordings. We're delighted to bring you, currently chopped into four bits, a scan of the ad.

The text of the ad, omitting the names, is:

Fair play for musicians.

We call upon the UK Government to support the extension of copyright in sound recordings.

On behalf of over 3,500 record companies and 40,000 performers.

Unfortunately, and as pointed out by Larry Lessig, at least two of the people listed are dead. Freddie Garrity died on 19th May 2006 (or 20th, depend on whether you believe Wikipedia or the media), so one supposes that he might possibly have signed such a petition before his death and his name is included as a supporter on those grounds. But Lonnie Donegan died on 3rd Nov 2002 (or 4th). That's four years before this petition, and three years before the announcement of the Gowers Review, so it's really very disingenuous of the music industry to include his name.

The Gowers Review team stated clearly in their report that they have taken an "evidence-based approach to its policy analysis and has supplemented internal analysis by commissioning external experts to examine the economic impact of changes to the length of copyright term on sound recordings". They then made the recommendation (recommendation no. 3) that "The European Commission should retain the length of protection on sound recordings and performers' rights at 50 years".

Unequivocal support for the position taken by ORG in our Release The Music campaign, then.

I guess this leaves the music industry with two tactics:

1. Try to convince MPs that because they can get 4,500 people (including two corpses) to sign a petition and can afford to take out a big ad in the FT that this therefore trumps economic analyses from people who actually know what they're talking about. I guarantee that if ORG had the same resources to throw at this, we could easily whip up 4,500 people who are against term extension. We've already got 803, so if you haven't signed up, do go ahead. But really, all this proves is who has the biggest petition promotion machinery.

2. Rubbish the report and those who oppose term extension, labelling us as "academics and 'thinkers'". Oh yes, damn you thinkers, you keep coming up with rational arguments that the PPL and BPI can't actually undermine!

I suppose there is a third tactic: keep on spouting the same ol' rubbish, more loudly and more annoyingly, until MPs give in. Well, ORG's here to provide some balance to the debate, so we'll just keep pointing at that same ol' pesky evidence that proves the record industry wrong.

Meantime, if you see any dead people in that ad, please let us know!

UPDATE: List of dead or possibly dead people:

1. Freddie Garrity, d. 19 May 2006 2. Lonnie Donegan, d. 3 Nov 2002 3. James Shand, aka Jimmy Shand, d. 23 Dec 2000 4. Richard Harris, d. 2002, but could be a different one 5. Richard Berry, d. 23 Jan 1997, but could be a different one 6. Nat Gonella, d. 6 Aug 1998, but signed as "N Wilson for Nat Gonella", and will probably argue "it's what he would have wanted"

If you want to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority about this ad, you can use their convenient online form.

UPDATE 2: So, just out of curiosity Wendy Grossman and I started looking in a bit more detail at this ad, and discovered some interesting names, many of which are not British. I'm not sure how British you have to be in order to deserve some sort of say in the UK copyright debate, but a few of these names are somewhat surprising:

1. Cher - American 2. Suzi Quatro - American (in the ad she's listed as Suzi Quattro) 3. George Lucas - American (is this really the George Lucas?) 4. Martha Argerich - Argentinean 5. Laurie Lewis - American 6. Leslie Howard - Australian (guess there could be another British one) 7. Belinda Carlisle - American 8. John Williams - the famous one is American, but there are others and it's a common name... but as the famous one composed the music for Star Wars and we appear to have a Mr Lucas on the petition, maybe it is him!

Comments (17)

  1. Blah, Blah, Blahg - Techie, security, political, and other useless miscellany » Dead musicians sign copyright extension petition:
    Aug 10, 2007 at 11:03 AM

    [...] Normaly, such a thing would be one good way to go about trying to institute change. The folks behind this push, however, might get in a little trouble. I’m not sure if they’ll get in trouble for zombification of the dead, or for forging signatures. One way or another, however, those folks got some long dead musicians and artists, as well as quite a few non-British musicians and artists to supposedly sign on. And then got caught. Ooops. (via boingboing) [...]

  2. john baker:
    Apr 03, 2007 at 08:32 PM

    i see real dead people aaaaahhhh

  3. andyl:
    Jan 31, 2007 at 01:23 PM

    S. Bamforth,

    This is about protecting the length of performance rights. It isn't affecting the copyright of the underlying music or words.

    What I find most disingenuous about the advert, is at the bottom is the claim that it is on behalf of over 3500 record companies and 40000 artists. How do we know this? Have the got a big petition with over 40000 arists' names on it? Or is it just another unsubstantiated claim by the record biz. I know which option my money is on.

  4. mark’lectic » Blog Archive » Comments on the RIAA’s FAQ Propaganda:
    Mar 02, 2007 at 07:36 AM

    [...] The RIAA’s newly launched site has turned justice into a one-click e-commerce experience. The site has an FAQ section that you might want to read to understand why you’re getting sued. As usual with the record industry, it’s full of half-truths and outright lies. [...]

  5. Keith:
    Dec 14, 2006 at 08:59 PM

    John Williams is probably the classical guitarist, not the composer. just so you know. Keep up with the good wotk

  6. Suw Charman:
    Dec 18, 2006 at 04:08 PM

    Iain MacKenzie, died Mon 28 Aug 06, so probably signed before he died.

  7. S. Bamforth:
    Jan 17, 2007 at 02:35 PM

    I suspect the names on the list are the names of the people represented by the record companies. Rather than finding dead people, it'd be nice if the live people on the list could be polled to see if they do actually believe what they are being stated as believing.

    Also, I'm shocked that Simon Rattle and Louis Frémaux (Who, as conductors of mostly out of copyright music, must understand the need to limit the extension of copyright) would sign this.

  8. Links » Zombie Musicians:
    Dec 13, 2006 at 10:30 AM

    [...] Such is the power of the debate over copyright extensions, it can, apparently, reach beyond the grave. The PPL took out a full page ad in the FT More than 4,500 British recording artists have banded together to demand “fair play for musicians” over copyright term. [...]

  9. BLOGical Thoughts » Wednesday, 13 December, 2006:
    Dec 13, 2006 at 03:09 PM

    [...] RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC EU: I see dead people Software bull has pointy horns Business Software Alliance issues legal action in licensing crackdown RIAA Should Focus on Good Music, Not Downloads With a blanket license, will CDs get cheaper? [...]

  10. Just some guy:
    Dec 13, 2006 at 06:31 AM

    Richard Harris is on there. If it's the Richard Harris we all know of, he died in 2002.

  11. Just some guy:
    Dec 13, 2006 at 06:48 AM

    If Richard Berry is the one of "Louie, Louie" fame, he died in 1997.

  12. Alex Young:
    Dec 13, 2006 at 09:40 AM

    Having gone through the A's and B's in the photos on Flickr, the list bears a striking resemblance to that in Appendix C of the PPL and VPL's response to the Gower Report, which is here. These are all people of whom is is said: "This section on copyright term represents the view of 4,279 individual featured
    artists, session musicians and backing singers. Every single one has written to the
    Gowers Review, via PPL, calling on the Government to increase the copyright term
    for sound recordings."

    Interestingly, while Freddie Garrity does appear on that list, Lonnie Donegan doesn't. It would be interesting to find out what the other differences between the two lists are.

  13. Hexten » Blog Archive » Names Please:
    Dec 12, 2006 at 02:18 PM

    [...] Update: Via ORG there’s a complete scan of the ads in four parts here. [...]

  14. Suw Charman:
    Dec 12, 2006 at 02:00 PM

    Please do let us know how that goes!

  15. Neil Campbell:
    Dec 12, 2006 at 02:16 PM

    I just spotted "James Shand" on there, who, given the apparent lack of any James Shands publishing music, I fear is actually, Jimmy Shand, the Scottish accordionist, who died in December 2000.

  16. Flotsam:
    Dec 13, 2006 at 08:46 AM

    You can add Nat Gonella to the zombie list. There are also dead musicians' relatives on there. I wonder why? :)

  17. Dave Johnson:
    Dec 12, 2006 at 01:53 PM

    I lodged a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority two days ago asking them to request evidence from the BPI of an actual petition on the grounds that I could find no evidence that either Donegan or Garrity had ever pronounced on copyright term extention.

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