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May 14, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Copyright extension: Seems our MPs haven't been doing their homework

Update 2: Nick Pollard says Stephen Williams MP has responded to his letter by agreeing to take his name off the EDM. Well done, Nick (and Mr Williams MP). Anyone else had a response? Let us know so we can strike their names off the list below.

Update: 7 more MPs have signed the EDM this week. If you are a constituent of one of these members, please write to explain why we should all oppose this copyright extension.

  • Alan Simpson - Nottingham South - Labour
  • Janet Dean - Burton - Labour
  • Jeffrey Donaldson - Lagan Valley - Democratic Unionist Party
  • Frank Doran - Aberdeen North - Labour
  • Pete Wishart - Perth and Perthshire - SNP
  • Alasdair McDonnell - Belfast South - Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • Colin Burgon - Elmet - Labour Party

Here we go again.

Top-level reviews of intellectual property regulation reject proposals to extend the length of copyright protection for producers and performers. An independent economic study grounds the Gowers Review's recommendation that “The European Commission should retain the length of protection on sound recordings and performers’ rights at 50 years.” This recommendation, endorsed by the British government in December 2006, is affirmed by a report authored for the European Commission that rejects in even stronger terms proposals for extension.

Yet certain politicians appear to be neglecting their IP studies. Seventy MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion calling for extension: perhaps they're simply studying from the same textbooks as Mick, Katie and Cliff? Please write to tell your MP that term extension will neither benefit starving musicians nor guarantee profits for the recording industry.

We must remind politicians to debate this issue on the basis of evidence – which points firmly against extension – rather than nostalgia. It is particularly important to write if you are a constituent of one of these 70 MPs:

David Amess Mark Durkan David Lepper
David Anderson Bill Etherington Elfyn Llwyd
Janet Anderson Mark Field Peter Luff
Joe Benton Michael Jabez Foster Judy Mallaber
David S Borrow Hywel Francis David Marshall
Peter Bottomley Mike Gapes John McDonnell
Colin Breed Ian Gibson Jim McGovern
Vincent Cable Nigel Griffiths Ann McKechin
Martin Caton John Grogan Rosemary McKenna
David Chaytor Mike Hancock Alan Meale
Michael Clapham Dai Havard Doug Naysmith
Tom Clarke John Hemming Edward O'Hara
David Clelland Doug Henderson Mike Penning
Harry Cohen Jimmy Hood John Robertson
Derek Conway Kelvin Hopkins Bob Russell
Frank Cook George Howarth Dennis Skinner
Jeremy Corbyn Brian Iddon Gavin Strang
Ann Cryer Glenda Jackson David Taylor
Ian Davidson Brian Jenkins Desmond Turner
Philip Davies Lynne Jones Rudi Vis
Jim Dobbin Barbara Keeley Betty Williams
Frank Dobson Alan Keen Stephen Williams
David Drew Greg [R] Knight Jenny Willott

If you need fuel for your letters, watch the videos (or listen to the audio) from our Release the Music debate (thanks, Tim!). The first part is a fantastic speech by Jonathan Zittrain, which explains this issue and other aspects of copyright reform in clear terms. The second is a panel debate, featuring representatives from the music industry as well as an academic and recording artist.

We’ll be updating our Release the Music briefing pack before taking the campaign to Europe later this year. If any readers are excited to get involved, please drop me a line so we can coordinate our efforts.

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Comments (14)

  1. We must resist the new threat to internet radio. at jamdev:
    May 28, 2007 at 10:55 PM

    [...] Copyright is a bargain, even in the United States of America. It’s not what certain factions of industry would have you (or our governments) believe, but the jurisprudence is very clear: it is important to protect the public interest in literature, music and the creative arts as well as the creators’ economic rights. Where they are in conflict, a balanced approach must prevail. [...]

  2. Copyright extension - again at New Music Strategies:
    May 14, 2007 at 01:49 PM

    [...] It’s very important that you read this and then please write to your MP. Thanks.  Email This To A Friend [...]

  3. Paul Pedley:
    May 14, 2007 at 12:55 PM

    As you say, the Gowers review recommended that the copyright term should not be extended.

    Indeed, the Out-law.com podcast for 26 April 2007 (http://www.out-law.com/page-7276) in which Andrew Gowers is interviewed, tells us that based on the evidence, he almost recommended a REDUCTION in the term.

    What people also seem to overlook is that Recommendation 4 of the Gowers review says "Policy makers should adopt the principle that the term and scope of protection for IP rights should not be altered retrospectively". So even if it were changed, it wouldn't happen retrospectively.

    In the USA when the Sonny Bonno legislation was being discussed, Jack Valenti wanted copyright to last forever. Given, however that the US constitution says that copyright should be for a limited period, he said that it should last forever minus one day (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono_Copyright_Term_Extension_Act)

    And then there was the advertisement which appeared in the FT shortly after the Gowers review came out, signed by 4000 artists, supporting extension of the term. Some of the 4000 were dead. And so the argument goes, if dead people can sign an advert, they can surely benefit from the extension of copyright term - see http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/003628.shtml

  4. SteveL:
    May 14, 2007 at 08:46 PM

    Dropped a note to Stephen Williams, the Bristol West Lib-Dem MP. Its a big student constituency, who threw out a labour MP over iraq, so its surprising he has joined the record companies.

    I have explained the situation to our local indymedia site to get some local activity.

  5. Bill Clark:
    May 21, 2007 at 12:41 PM

    As a small time re-issuer of Music Hall recordings, an extension to the copyright term would mean the end of this activity which has brought the names of many long forgotten artists back into circulation. The Gower Review took all this into account.

    In citing the estate of the late Lonnie Donegan as a reason for term extension, Michael Connarty, author of the parliamentary bill "Copyright Term for Performers and Producers" has been badly advised. His widow would make far more by re-issuing Lonnie's now public domain recordings on her own record label, than she would accrue by any potential royalties from the original label. Of course, the major labels wouldn't point that out.

  6. Nick Pollard:
    Jun 04, 2007 at 05:27 PM

    Just got this reply from the office of Stephen Williams (Bristol West) MP:

    "Thank you for your considered email to Stephen Williams about the issue
    of copyright extension and the EDM that he signed.

    After reading your letter and several others, Stephen has decided to
    withdraw his name from the EDM. He will write to you properly, but I
    thought that you might like to know in advance.

    Apologies for any disappointment that this might have caused."

    Looks like you can cross him off your list now, hurrah!

  7. Sean:
    May 15, 2007 at 12:49 AM

    I am really shocked by some of the names on the list, but that is another story.
    I can only feel that they have been ill advised, or have not had the time to do their own research.
    As a creative, I respect copyright, but "times they are a changing" to quote a dead person. I share my work, and am very happy for that work to be mashed, stolen, recycled... It often inspires me.
    I forget who said "Nothing is ever original" (possibly my art teacher at school...But then he probably borrowed that from someone...) We all benefit from sharing ideas/content. It makes creativity, therefore life, that much better.
    Count me in on fighting this one.

  8. Stephen Bridges:
    May 16, 2007 at 10:43 PM

    Nice to see David Amess MP standing up for important issues. Like cake (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass_Eye). Looks like he's not listening any more carefully.

  9. Graham Anderson:
    May 14, 2007 at 07:50 PM

    In case people want to see the constituency listed against the MP. I know who my MP is, but not who my mates' MPs might be - hope this helps:

    David Amess - Southend West
    David Anderson - Blaydon
    Janet Anderson - Rossendale & Darwen
    Joe Benton - Bootle
    David S Borrow - South Ribble
    Peter Bottomley - Worthing West
    Colin Breed - South East Cornwall
    Vincent Cable - Twickenham
    Martin Caton - Gower
    David Chaytor - Bury North
    Michael Clapham - Barnsley West & Penistone
    Tom Clarke - Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill
    David Clelland - Tyne Bridge
    Harry Cohen - Leyton & Wanstead
    Derek Conway - Old Bexley & Sidcup
    Frank Cook - Stockton North
    Jeremy Corbyn - Islington North
    Ann Cryer - Keighley
    Ian Davidson - Glasgow South West
    Philip Davies - Shipley
    Jim Dobbin - Heywood & Middleton
    Frank Dobson - Holborn & St Pancras
    David Drew - Stroud
    Mark Durkan - Foyle
    Bill Etherington - Sunderland North
    Mark Field - Cities of London & Westminster
    Michael Jabez Foster - Hastings & Rye
    Hywel Francis - Aberavon
    Mike Gapes - Ilford South
    Ian Gibson - Norwich North
    Nigel Griffiths - Edinburgh South
    John Grogan - Selby
    Mike Hancock - Portsmouth South
    Dai Havard - Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney
    John Hemming - Birmingham, Yardley
    Doug Henderson - Newcastle upon Tyne North
    Jimmy Hood - Lanark & Hamilton East
    Kelvin Hopkins - Luton North
    George Howarth - Knowsley North & Sefton East
    Brian Iddon - Bolton South East
    Glenda Jackson - Hampstead & Highgate
    Brian Jenkins - Tamworth
    Lynne Jones - Birmingham, Selly Oak
    Barbara Keeley - Worsley
    Alan Keen - Feltham & Heston
    Greg [R] Knight - East Yorkshire
    David Lepper - Brighton, Pavilion
    Elfyn Llwyd - Meirionnydd Nant Conwy
    Peter Luff - Mid Worcestershire
    Judy Mallaber - Amber Valley
    David Marshall - Glasgow East
    John McDonnell - Hayes & Harlington
    Jim McGovern - Dundee West
    Ann McKechin - Glasgow North
    Rosemary McKenna - Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East
    Alan Meale - Mansfield
    Doug Naysmith - Bristol North West
    Edward O’Hara - Knowsley South
    Mike Penning - Hemel Hempstead
    John Robertson - Glasgow North West
    Bob Russell - Colchester
    Dennis Skinner - Bolsover
    Gavin Strang - Edinburgh East
    David Taylor - North West Leicestershire
    Desmond Turner - Brighton, Kemptown
    Rudi Vis - Finchley & Golders Green
    Betty Williams - Conwy
    Stephen Williams - Bristol West
    Jenny Willott - Cardiff Central

  10. JohnB:
    May 15, 2007 at 04:16 PM

    I note that Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, has joined the call. As a member of Runrig I can see how this might engage him at a personal level, but I'm not sure that this is in the best interests of the people he has agreed to represent.
    Following the 2005 constituency changes he is no longer our MP, but perhaps someone in Perth or its environs can get in touch with him.

  11. Interested:
    May 14, 2007 at 08:31 PM

    http://www.writetothem.com/
    Will find your MP and help you write to them.

  12. Sean:
    May 15, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    PS. Excellent post with the list Mr Anderson, I will look up emails for as many as I can, or is that a waste of time do you think?
    Regards.



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