Friday, September 27, 2013

The long-term effect of Golan v. Holder

Last year, one of the most important decisions in copyright law history made its way to the Supreme court, and that decision was Golan v. Holder.

The effect of Golan v. Holder was that works that were once in the public domain whose copyright holders had dropped the copyright could get the copyright back if copyright law expanded its applicability. If you forget to renew your ownership, you can always get it back for no extra fee. It would be nice if library books worked that way!

The effect of this decision is twofold... first of all, companies that dropped the copyright of a piece of music or literature that then got a lot of free marketing through free use can then get the copyright back for as long as the law allows, making all other distributions illegal. No work needed!

The second effect is scary for musicians, and will come into effect if copyright is extended beyond the current 95/120 year period. If Congress were to extend copyright to 200 years lets say, than under the Golan v. Holder decision, I see absolutely no reason why the companies that used to own Beethoven's 9th symphony or America the Beautiful, or Mark Twain's works or Uncle Tom's Cabin couldn't come and claim ownership under Golan v. Holder, even though their copyrights lapsed a long time ago. This will attack culture and have little to no benefit for society. I hope that Congress will remove us from the World Trade Organization because it clearly does not represent the will of the people but instead the will of corporations that are contrary to the interest of individuals, society, and culture.

I am not opposed to globalization as a movement and would be in favor of international agreements that protect the rights of people to get a fair day's wage for a fair day's work and to make laws that protect people from being ripped off. The laws the World Trade Organization has been proposing (along with NAFTA) are contrary to the interests of the majority of people, when companies that cross the American/Canadian border pay tariffs but companies don't (even though "corporations are people", which is looking Orwellian), when there are absolutely no protections against slavery and dangerous working conditions with the WTO but harsh laws giving people who have never worked a day in their lives ownership of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in perpetuity. I am in favor of globalization if it helped the majority of people, but the current laws being passed are against the interest of the majority, because the people who write these laws are heavily funded by the groups that financially benefit from unfair copyright laws and immoral labor laws.

This is another facet of the big issue of politics which is again Citizens United when multinational corporations are able to fund politicians to an extreme amount. OpenSecrets has made this graph of how much money went to each party per election and who won, which shows how since 1998 the party that got the most money has been reelected every single time. When you are getting a lot of money from copyright holders and little to nothing from people who want to see copyright stay limited, there is leaves little wonder how the Uruguay Round and Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act were passed. We need to repeal the Uruguay Round, reform the WTO, repeal the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and move to a plan like I have proposed which will help musicians, students, and make it so that copyright is how it should be. We are going down a very dangerous path where everything will be rented and economic freedom will be limited like it was before capitalism.

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