Thu | Jun 24, 2021

Copyright extensions a bad idea

Published:Sunday | September 6, 2015 | 10:12 PM


Intellectual property protection is crucial for growth in a modern economy. Creators of artistic and scientific works need to be assured that their inventions will not be exploited by unscrupulous individuals.

Jamaica's Copyright Act was recently amended to extend the copyright period from 50 to 95 years. This will allow creators and owners of copyright to acquire revenue for the use of their works for another 45 years.

Although the music fraternity has been lauding this policy, it is a step in the wrong direction. The reality is that extreme copyright extensions do not enable innovation. According to the UK's Gowers Review of Intellectual Property published in 2006, extending the term of protection for sound recorders or performers' rights will not increase the desire to invest, nor will it result in the proliferation of new works.

When the duration of protection for copyright works is increased, creators actually have less incentive to produce, because they can still collect royalties.

Furthermore, if the period of protection is increased, future innovators will have to wait a longer time before they can build upon past work in order to create new material. Therefore, copyright extensions can actually result in fewer innovations.

Further, rigid copyright extensions also have a negative impact on consumers. According to a 2006 report titled 'The Recasting of Copyright and Related Rights for the Knowledge Economy', produced by the Institute for Information Law, copyright extensions result in consumers paying higher prices for sound recordings. When a sound recording enters the public domain, there is a great competition to supply it, which reduces its price for consumers.

However, when restrictions exist, there is no competition, and consumers continue to pay high prices for the same recordings over several years. Additionally, studies have shown that copyright laws tend to benefit established companies and not creators. After all, in several instances, they are the real owners of creative works.

These projects also had a higher success rate than original works, since their familiarity encouraged sponsorship.

Only those who fear competition prefer onerous laws, because they can become wealthy without creating new works .