Thursday, 30 April 2015

Copyright, Controversy and Electioneering

I've been intrigued over the last week by the debate over copyright law the UK Greens have stumbled into.Their manifesto seemed to imply that they would change copyright law to Publication plus 14 yrs. Coincidentally or not, this is what copyright was defined as under first Copyright Law of 1710, so this seemed a radically anti-capitalist move, turning the clock back to an age before corporations took over.

However after a flurry of Twitter criticism from authors, they revised (clarified?) this to Author Life plus 14 years (a huge difference). For me, the current Author Life plus 70 years (in UK) seems way too long, benefitting 'author estates' which often have only a tangential connection with the author. It's surely crazy that permission/ royalties could be required to reproduce work from up to 150 years ago...The 1842 Copyright Act - Author Life plus 7 years or Publication plus 42 years, whichever longer - was perhaps only slightly in need of extension. So the Greens have raised an interesting point.

Incidentally, as candidates strive to claim votes in the UK's tightly fought election, I was amused to read in a recent obituary in The Times of singer Ronnie Carroll (RIP, a great character): 'He stood as an independent candidate in Hampstead at the 1997 general election promising to deliver 'home rule' for the Make Politicians History party and stood at the Haltemprice and Howden 2008 by-election...He hoped to enter the record books by becoming the first candidate not to win any votes at all, but was disappointed to discover that 29 people had voted for him.'

It may be difficult to get people to vote for you, but there's always someone out there determined to support you...

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