The IPKat is indebted to Prash Mehta (Stephenson Harwood) for this note on the Great Debate that was conducted earlier this month between one of the most vigorous advocates of copyright term extension and one of its keenest critics.
"AIPPI UK's event on 8 April was a debate on the extension of copyright of sound recordings and performer's rights. The speakers were Professor Bernt Hugenholtz of the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam, and Richard Mollet, Director of Public Affairs at the BPI. Jonathan Rayner James QC took the chair for the evening and began by conducting an audience poll to ascertain the views of the audience on the evening's topic of debate. Only 4 out of a total of 43 members of the audience were in favour of the proposal for the term extension.The IPKat agrees that the debate is far from over. We academics may not have a convenient forum for debating these issues, but we do at least have the privilege of being able to revisit them over and over again, in pursuit of those elusive commodities truth and justice. Merpel says, since bare-knuckle fighting has been outlawed, is the copyright extension debate now the most viciously-contested sport? No, says Tufty, not while software patents are around ...
In a lively debate, Richard Mollet noted that it was not only the "four majors" (EMI, SonyBMG, Universal and Warners) which supported term extension but also a significant number of smaller independent record companies.
In reply, Professor Hugenholtz's took the audience through his aptly named presentation "95 Reasons why Term Extension is a Really Bad Idea". He joked that the audience poll was like appearing on "IP Idol".
Jonathan Rayner James QC questioned why, after frequent debates on the subject, there should remain such opposition to the term extension. Professor Hugenholtz pointed out that the lobbying from the music industry has been particularly strong, with no or little forum available to the academic community. Richard Mollet disagreed, and stated that academics have had a fair opportunity to question the rationale of term extension.
A final audience poll revealed that those in favour of term extension had now doubled to 8. However, those against had remained the same. In summing up and thanking the speakers, AIPPI and Stephenson Harwood, Jonathan Rayner James QC observed that this debate is far from over yet".