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Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Public Domain Isn't Really Public

NASA Curiosity image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
There are a lot of horrifying things happening in the world today when it comes to artist's rights, but the following might be one of the worst. Now the major publishing companies are claiming they own songs in the public domain.

According to an article in TechDirt by Mike Masnick, musician Dave Colvin has been recording his own versions of Public Domain songs like the Christmas classic "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and each time he's posted one on YouTube, he receives a lawyerly email from either Warner Chappell, Universal Music Publishing or Sony claiming that they own the rights and he must cease and desist. Not only that, now YouTube is threatening to disable his account as a result.

Just to refresh here, Public Domain means that the public is free to use these songs because no one owns them! You are absolutely able to make money from them if you can, but you can't stop others from making any money either. Talk about power hungry, it's not like these publishing companies aren't making enough money already.

Colvin is trying to monetize the PD songs in his channel (which amounts to only pennies anyway), but now the majors are trying to stop him from doing even that.

But guess what, even NASA has had the same problems lately when their own feed of the Curiosity landing on Mars was blocked because Scripps News claimed they owned the copyright! Now imagine, NASA is publicly owned (which means by you and me and everyone else), and some slimy news organization says they own it just because they rebroadcast the feed as well?

Obviously this is all getting out of hand and just screams for new regulation, or at least that the current regulators be more vigilant. It's also another good reason why the Universal/EMI merger is not good for the industry. Giant companies don't need any more leverage than they already have.

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1 comment:

Allen said...

Copyright needs to go back to what it was when it was originally granted. 10 years. Especially with the internet, you can really monetize your works in much faster time.

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