US Intellectual Property law is relatively kind to our fair land’s performing musicians and songwriters; Americans enjoy 95 years of protection for copyrights on sound recordings and performers’ rights. Put simply: Write a song, chances are you’ll expire before your song passes into the realm of public domain, free for all to use and enjoy. Fair enough, right? The law polices your shit while your breathing, and then lets the world partake in your genius forever more.
But be a Brit, and it’s not the same tune. Under British copyright law, you’ve got 50 years of protection. That means, according to Yahoo, “McCartney’s Beatles could be up for grabs from 2012 and 2013, including early hits like ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.'” Sure, dude’s got quid to spare — but with that divorce coming up, it’d be nice to royalties into his 80’s, no?
But the story’s bigger than Paul. On Wednesday, McCartney was joined by the likes of Sir Cliff Richard, U2, Yoko Ono, Barry Gibb, and 4,500 other artists in signing onto a newspaper ad that ran in the UK’s The Financial Times, proposing that the copyright be extended to the American standard of 95 years. The twist is that it’s the Times’s former editor Andrew Gowers who wrote the government accepted report rejecting the artists’ plea. According to The Guardian, Gowers’s report suggested “that changing the copyright law would give little public benefit, but would increase costs.”
And though the British government rejected Macca’s plea, there’s still hope; the decision ultimately rests with the European Commission, who will hear the artists’ plea next year. So do you agree with Sir Paul? Is 50 years of protection too little? Think about those less fortunate songwriters than The Beatles! But those silly Brits; legally, they could have extended their protection by moving to the States sooner! (From the mountains, to the prairies, to the courthouse, with your songs.)