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    Faulkner, Hesse Lead Public Domain Day 2013

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    Wednesday January 02, 2013
    Wallace McLean has posted his annual celebration of public domain day, listing dozens of authors whose work entered into the public domain in Canada on New Year's Day. Notable names this year include Nobel Prize winners William Faulkner and Herman Hesse as well as  poet e.e. cummings. The list is particularly notable this year as Canada is participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, which include U.S. proposals to extend the term of copyright in Canada to life of the author plus 70 years (from the current life plus 50).  If adopted, the change would mean that no new works would enter the Canadian public domain for two decades.
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    The TPP Impact on New Zealand's Public Domain

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    Tuesday January 24, 2012
    Gareth Hughes, a New Zealand Green Party MP, has posted on the impact of extending the term of copyright in New Zealand from life plus 50 years to life plus 70 years as demanded by the Trans Pacific Partnership. Hughes calls attention to many leading NZ works that would be locked out of the public domain for decades.
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    James Joyce and the Public Domain

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    Friday January 13, 2012
    The New Yorker examines the entry of James Joyce's works into the public domain in Europe (Joyce entered the public domain in Canada twenty years ago), demonstrating why the issue is about far more than free access to books.
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    TPP's Other Copyright Term Extension: Protection of Sound Recordings Would Nearly Double in Duration

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    Tuesday January 10, 2012
    Europe has been embroiled in a controversy over the copyright term of sound recordings for the past few years. While the law provided protection for a 50 year term, major record labels argued for an extended term to generate more profits from older recordings. Proposals to extend the term in the UK and Europe were widely panned as independent studies found that benefiting a few record labels would come at an enormous public cost (see here or here). For example, the UK Gowers Review of Intellectual Property concluded:

    Economic evidence indicates that the length of protection for copyright works already far exceeds the incentives required to invest in new works. Boldrin and Levine estimate that the optimal length of copyright is at most seven years. Posner and Landes, eminent legal economists in the field, argue that the extra incentives to create as a result of term extension are likely to be very small beyond a term of 25 years. Furthermore, it is not clear that extending term from 50 years to 70 or 95 years would remedy the unequal treatment of performers and producers from composers, who benefit from life plus 70 years protection. This is because it is not clear that extension of term would benefit musicians and performers very much in practice. The CIPIL report that the Review commissioned states that: “most people seem to assume that any extended term would go to record companies rather than performers: either because the record company already owns the copyright or because the performer will, as a standard term of a recording agreement, have purported to assign any extended term that might be created to the copyright holder”.

    Despite the evidence, the term of sound recordings was extended in the UK last year. Canada has thus far been spared a lengthy debate over the issue since a similar extension clearly holds little benefit to Canadians with the overwhelming majority of incremental revenues going to U.S. record labels.


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