[persbericht] ScriptumLibre opposes neighboring rights term extension

Wiebe van der Worp wiebe at vrijschrift.org
Thu Feb 21 00:59:16 CET 2008

Press Release ScriptumLibre 20 February 2008

ScriptumLibre opposes neighboring rights term extension

With great concern ScriptumLibre learned about the European Commission's
proposal to extend neighboring rights from 50 to 95 years after the date
of performance.

Such extensions have been proposed before. Recently a similar proposal
has been rejected by the European parliament as unnecessary and not
serving any public purpose, such as the promotion of culture and arts.
They merely stem from rent-seeking behavior from a small group of
rights-holders who wish to maintain a steady stream of royalties on
works nearing the end of their current term. No sound economical benefit
of such an extension has been demonstrated. The emotional plea,
supported by a number of well known artists also is misleading, as all
these artists have already been able to receive royalties on their
performances for fifty years, and often continue to control the
dissemination of their work through copyrights on the underlying works
such as song lyrics.

The argument that terms for neighboring rights need to be extended to
match longer copyrights, and then proposing a term still different from
copyrights in the EU but matching similar rights terms in the US makes
little sense. It actually causes us to fear that this may lead to cases
of neighboring rights exceeding copyrights terms, causing a further
escalation in copyright extensions.

Outside the small but influential circle of large corporate
rights-holders and their agents, there is a growing consensus that
current copyrights terms are far too extensive, and as a result are
obstructing, rather than promoting a diverse and vibrant creative
culture. In particular artists themselves suffer from the growing burden
to clear copyrights in an environment where rights are continuously
expanded. Another cause for grave concern is the fact that many works
have been so long out of circulation before their copyrights expire that
by the time they enter the public domain no copies of that particular
work are left to actually enter the public domain. It is time to reverse
this worrisome trend.

This particular proposal will restrict access to all performances since
the onset of the first world war, often recorded on obsolete and fragile
media. Extended neighboring rights will seriously hinder their
preservation. Due to technological advances, most of these recordings
have limited commercial value. However, they are an irreplaceable part
of our cultural heritage, and are important for research. To purposely
block the conservation of these historical works is little short of
wanton destruction of cultural heritage.

The current copyright regime has turned into a private tax on culture,
which restricts the access of citizens to cultural heritage, and even
blocks its preservation. An increasingly small fraction of these taxes
actually end up with artists and authors.

We strongly urge the European Commission and the European Parliament to
refrain from adding further undue burdens on our culture.

Contact information

Jeroen Hellingman, board member ScriptumLibre
jhellingman at vrijschrift.org
tel.: +31 30 68 75 444

Wiebe van der Worp, chairman ScriptumLibre
wiebe at vrijschrift.org
tel.: +31 6 455 939 82

About the ScriptumLibre

ScriptumLibre is the international name of Vrijschrift.

ScriptumLibre creates awareness about the economic and social meaning of
free knowledge and culture for our society. ScriptumLibre fulfills both
a protecting and promoting role. Internationally we work together with
the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, the Free Software
Foundation Europe, Project Gutenberg and a lot of other organizations.


The European Commission proposal:

Other Critical Responses to this Proposal:

Martin Kretschmer in a letter to the Financial Times:

Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm on nu.nl (in Dutch)

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