Thursday, 20 October 2016

Who Owns A Band's Performance?

Rock band promoter Sid Bernstein helped to bring the Beatles to the USA and to set up gigs for them in prestigious venues. Footage from the concerts  was later used in the Beatles film "Eight Days A Week" and in an assortment of documentaries about the band and their role in rock history. This has been the subject of an "intellectual property" rights battle in which the company that held the rights is complaining of infringement of its copyrights — by the Beatles, no less — because they're streaming concert footage on Beatles.com.

Sid Bernstein Presents (the man himself died in 2013) had its copyright registration for the footage from the Shea Stadium concert in 1967 rejected in July 2016 but is complaining against Apple Corps Ltd. and Subafilms Ltd.

I've been told over and over again that copyright is an intellectual property right designed to allow the author/creator of a work to control its use. No, it's not. This is but one of many hundreds of thousands of examples of this fact. Copyright is a temporary government-granted monopoly privilege that allows rightsholders the right to control distribution of the work until the term runs out. Over the years, this has been perverted by maximalists to mean "the right to control every aspect of the work under copyright forever and ever and ever." That doesn't make it either true or right.

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