January 02, 2003

Copyright "harmonization" and recordings

Edward W. Felten discusses a New York Times article regarding European Copyrights Expiring on Recordings From 1950's, and observes:

There is another irony here. According to today's article, because of the disparity in copyright terms, "The [RIAA] is trying to persuade European Union countries to extend terms of copyright." Recall that U.S. copyright terms are longer, in part, because of the 20-year extension passed a in 1998. And yet, according to a February 19, 2002 article in the New York Times, "Support for the [1998 U.S.] extension also came from those who argued that it was necessary to match the copyright term granted by the European Union."

The key point to realize here is that the copyright terms were different for books and recordings. For books, the EU had a longer copyright term than the US, but for recordings, the EU had a shorter copyright term. Enter "harmonization". Does this mean the terms get set to the longer, shorter, or meet in the middle? The RIAA desired answer seems to be "maximum of every set". There's a nice article about these issues with a Harmonization Chart

This is another lesson in the failure of the thought that "regulatory arbitrage" meant the effect of conflicting laws tended to the minimum. Rather, again, in some cases, the net result is the maximum.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on January 02, 2003 05:32 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups

Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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