The Right to Royalties

30 Apr, 2007 | EntertainmentTdp

I'm somewhat torn by the current copyright laws. It does seem strange that a performer doesn't get the same coverage as songwriters and composers, after all, it is they that breath life into the words and music, they the public fall in love with. You don't see actors getting less rights than writers and directors.

Equally, I'm not sure why copyright goes on beyond a person's death. Why should your decedents get to live off of your work? My dad does consultancy work, provides a lot of innovative solutions to companies' problems, financially it saves them a bundle, I'm talking serious money, but he's not entitled to a small fee each time they use it, nor would my siblings and I expect to have that continued to be paid to us after he dies. So why do certain people get that sort of protection and not others?

I suppose things covered by copyright aren't much different to those covered by patents or trademarks, but are they passed from one generation to the next (answer: no, patents typically only last 20 years!)? Normally the ideas are included in a product or technique and it's shares in a company that produces the items that is passed on not the idea itself.

So, for example, if JK Rowling wants to leave things to her children, she starts a company (Harry Potter Widgets Ltd) and passes her copyright to it, that then makes money licensing Harry Potter and associated wares. JK has shares in it, which she can pass to her children, but for them to be worth anything the company has to keep coming up with new ideas, spin-offs and variations to copyright.

I realise that it's very hard to produce something unique, to make something from nothing, to produce rather than consume, but as they're are supposed to be only a few basic storylines, if someone had copyrighted those where would we be, you'd have to license them just to right a new book! As I said, I'm torn. Yes, I appreciate these people deserve to be rewarded, but I'm not sure I agree their spouse/children/anyone else should be, get out and work like the rest of us.