Copyright has gone wrong

Last year I screened Metropolis as part of the Leeton Art Deco Festival and one of the reasons I chose the film was knowing it was out of copyright. As the screening approached I decided to double-check whether it was really out of copyright and discovered it was actually under consideration to return to copyright.

Earlier this year Metropolis returned to copyright. The Golan v Holder decision of the US Supreme Court saw a range of works yanked from the public domain, including Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf -- which will impact on the opportunities for orchestras to play this popular piece.

Copyright and its enforcement is out of control. Recently there have been reports of a video uploaded to YouTube that was taken from the owner on the basis of a spurious claim to copyrighted material within the clip.

Copyright currently exists for a minimum of 70 years beyond the death of the author, which seems over the top if it's meant to exist to ensure authors benefit from their creations. But, of course, contemporary works are complex creations with multiple 'authors' and many of these seem to be corporate entities if you believe Alex Cox:

It's so corrupt. Now they want to have longer copyright periods because they say the young artists are relying on this money. The young artists never see any money because they sign away that money to big media corporations, like Universal and Viacom. We, the artists, lose all of our rights to these massive corporations, who then come down heavy on these kids for downloading films and music that we never see a penny from. It's complete bullshit. I want to encourage your audience to go and pirate a bunch of my stuff right away.

Laws are meant to reflect the societies they govern and I don't think copyright law reflects contemporary usage of copyrighted materials because copyright extensions have rendered them irrelevant.

If you consider the secretive way in which copyright laws like ACTA are written then I think more people should be concerned at the way governments have been lobbied by business interests to create laws that don't reflect social attitudes.

However, it's great to see that more people than ever are created content via the internet these days because there are alternatives to copyright available with many of these services. Creative commons is one very adaptable alternative and the beauty of it is the way it encourages people to extend your content. I've been very flattered by remixes that others have done of my recordings, although sometimes I've appeared less than flattering in my remixes of others.