Friday, May 06, 2005

US Orphan Works Up for European Adoption

Buzzed around the blogs for the last days is the issue of "orphan works": (presumably) copyrighted works whose rightsholders are difficult or impossible to find. This keeps them from being reused in other works or made available to the public. The US Copyright Office launched an inquiry into the issue for possible legislative changes, received 700+ comments and reply-comments are due next Monday.

Stanford's Center for Internet & Society is whipping up some extra steam before this deadline ends and mailed out requests to highlight some of the comments. Apparently because I "care about copyright and the Internet" I'm asked to reproduce comment #100 [PDF] about someone who runs two websites with information about and software for classic computers from the '70s and '80s, notably Atari. I refer to the link and point out another comment instead [no. 36-PDF], which is a little more European flavoured. The transatlantic discrepancy between copyright protection of sound recordings brings some interesting consequences for the (commercial) "adoption" of US orphans in Europe:
In the European Economic Community, the duration of copyright of recordings is 50 years. As a US company I can legally issue in Europe, a recording, commercial, or broadcast, that is public domain in Europe but still covered by copyrights in the US. I can press in Europe, warehouse in Europe and sell in Europe a recording covered by US copyright. Further, a US customer can purchase, via the internet, a copy of that recording and have it shipped to them in the US, thus bypassing the US copyrights. European vendors do not monitor the copyright restrictions of the countries to which they ship product. US customs does not check. In short, the extra 25 years of the US copyrights forces US companies to take the pressing and sale of such products to Europe depriving US pressing companies from possible revenue and forcing US customers to pay extra for both the cost of pressing in Europe and the added transportation costs.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Branko Collin said...

You quote someone saying: "In the European Economic Community, the duration of copyright of recordings is 50 years. As a US company I can legally issue in Europe, a recording, commercial, or broadcast, that is public domain in Europe but still covered by copyrights in the US."

This suggests that the author believes that works that are no longer burdened by recording rights in the E.U. are in the public domain in the E.U. This is not necessarily true: the authors of the works (as opposed to the recording artists) may still hold a copyright.

I tried and started writing abstracts for the current comments, but things are going woefully slow, especially since I have to work this weekend.

8/5/05 00:11  

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