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!