Techdirt relates the Chinese government has been looking to change copyright laws in an attempt to grapple with the new realities of the internet age. Here’s the portions of the new law that are causing a fuss:
“According to Article 46, any record producer who acts pursuant to Article 48 shall have the right to make recordings of musical works owned by another, without needing authorization from the original owner, given that the content had been published for three months or longer.” [Italics mine]
The three month stipulation is causing consternation with the producers and artists, and for good reason. ”It is very difficult to popularize a new song within three months. Getting your song heard and appreciated by others is completely different from a song that has been around for years. This new amendment will encourage Internet copyright infringement…” The main reason for this is to protect the Chinese government from charges of piracy of foreign works.
As someone who publishes books, I have an interest in getting paid for my work, but I also refuse to use DRM on my works. I’d rather have people read my stuff than not; if they pay for the product, so much the better. Three months does not allow an artist to profit from their efforts, but the “copyright industry” that has cropped up looking to sue anyone they can and buy up any property they can lay their mits on has made this an issue. There is a long-standing precedent of works — music, books, etc — eventually entering the public domain once they are out of print. (List of the copyright law period for various countries.) The copyright industry and several governments (France and China) are working hard to prevent intellectual property moving to public domain; lawyers want to buy up public works and sequester them, profiting off of material that has been open to the people. Governments are instead choosing to place public domain works into government control for the same reason — revenue.
I find I’m moving steadily toward thinking that IP should move — at longest — to public domain after the death of the creator. The continuation of copyright a few decades after death was to provide the progeny of the author with a stream of income, but the children of the author, musician, filmmaker will have already benefited (indirectly) from the income generated during the life of the person. Any transfer of rights after death should be left to the creator or owner of the property — not dictated by state fiat.