Want to download the Beatles for free- without being a pirate? Well, we have to wait, as the Council of the European Union has voted to increase copyright protection for music recordings for another 20 years, making the length of protection extended to 70 years. According to the Council, the measure is intended to benefit young musicians and artists who do not enjoy the fruits of their labor later on in their life. Naturally, artists affected welcomed this development. Critics, on the other hand, say that this would hamper cultural enrichment and would mostly benefit record labels, not the artists. But what does this mean for us consumers? How is this relevant in the internet age?
Copyright extension can further the incentive to create for future musicians and present artists. It certainly boosts the battle against online piracy and strengthens copyright protection for EU musicians, given the fact that member states are supposed to incorporate the directive into their national legislation in two years. But the downside is that, ironically, it can also increase instances of online copyright infringement and piracy. Since music that are supposed to go into public domain are given another 20 years of protection, people would logically look for other sources that would offer them for free. This means space for file sharing and illegal downloads. It can even be said that the abundance mirror sites, P2P sites and other file sharing sites flies in the face of this directive, even rendering it toothless. Another ironic downside is that this directive can dampen creativity. Material and inspiration could be obtained from extant works, and innovation can proceed from there. But given the possible legal and financial sanctions, people would be afraid and deterred to create and share remixes or samplings of music recordings that are supposed to be already in the public domain. The main goal of copyright is to promote creativity and innovation. But with the extensions, it seems that the direction is heading opposite that goal.
Krystel Jehan M. Bautista, entry no. 13