Tories on copyright; Changes to wine labelling

Tories will expand sound recording term - but at a price

It’s a bumper IP day for The Times. First off, it reports on an interesting trade-off proposed by David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party. Wading in to the debate over sound recordings, he has come out in favour of extending the term from 50 to 70 years at the BPI’s AGM. This would give an ‘incentive to the music industry to digitise both older and niche repertoire which more people can enjoy at no extra cost’. In so doing, he has rejected the findings of the Gowers Review. However, in return for this concession, Cameron is calling on the music industry to show greater social responsibility by ‘not promoting a culture of low academic aspiration or violence but instead to inspire young kids with a positive vision of how to lead their life’.

The IPKat says there’s no point getting too excited over this one. As Cameron himself acknowledges, any term change would need to be approved by Europe. As for the social responsibility trade-off, this is very much a double-edged sword. It is regrettable to deify violence and the like in music, but to try and remove it in return for a specific legislative concession would involve papering over a sentiment that it deeply held in some sections of society (if violent lyrics weren’t striking a cord, they wouldn’t be included), rather than tackling it head on.

The full text of David Cameron’s speech is available here.

The grapes of wrath

The Times also reports on controversial reform of the European wine sector, following a year long consultation. Of particular interest to IP lawyers is a change to the labelling of geographical origin. Under the proposal, it will be possible to label wines with the grape variety and vintage, even where the wine has no GI. Previously, such labelling has been limited to GI-protected wine. The aim is said to be to respond to consumer demand for single variety wines. However, the proposal has met with a frosty response from European wine-makers.

The IPKat reckons that one of the key aims of GI protection is to enhance the availability of information to consumers, and hence to facilitate wider consumer choice. While in principle, the more information that is available the better, the telling point here will be, will the proposed new tier of labelling enable purchasers to make better decisions, or just confuse consumers?

A summary of the proposal is available here.
Tories on copyright; Changes to wine labelling Tories on copyright; Changes to wine labelling Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, July 05, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. You can defend any copyright term extension by:

    i) Pointing to some disparity with the protection Americans, Europeans, composers, owners, etc. enjoy. There's always a disparity somewhere, but that doesn't mean extension is the answer.

    ii) Saying "it's only fair"

    iii) a Mouse

    iv) Referring to some artist who will be lose his vital pension because his copyright expires.

    v) Accusing people who pirate copyrighted materials of sponsering terrorism. Cameron doesn't actually do that, but he's close.

    I'm surprised that Cameron also refers to a study that says that a copyright extension would 'boost' the music industry by 3.3 billion Pound over the next fifty years. That really should not be taken into account. First, PWC simply cannot predict what the music industry will look like by then. Second, there are also costs to an extension, for consumers, culture in general, etc.

    In short:
    1. copyright term extension is not a good idea;
    2. asking the music industry to educate the youth is ridiculous (although only to a certain level);
    3. linking both ideas is stupid.

  2. I can sympathise with the view that music in some way leads and influences people rather than merely reflecting society. Also, he's refreshingly right that politicians have nil impact on 'yoof' (not the word he uses), as compared to the Paris Hiltons of this world.

    But to try to trade off copyright extension (which he can't deliver anyway) and strong enforcement for socially responsible music seems utterly bonkers. He also seems to think an increase in copyright term will equal free digitisation of rare or old material. Er, how so ?

    I'd love to see a lawyer try to reduce this speech to an private contract as between the Tories and the 'music industry'.

  3. Thought you'd appreciate these comments from the ever-entertaining No Rock'n'Roll Fun Blog:

  4. Commenting on the grape variety and vintage option... This shouldn't confuse consumers any further because this is how many new world wines are already sold at present. If anything its to enable EU producers to compete at this level when other bottles along the same shelves are already doing so.

  5. The view that consumers may be "confused" by actually letting them know what is in a bottle is truly bizarre. is there any other segment of industry where this notion is bandied about?

    Having been brought up on NZ wines, I won't buy a bottle of wine unless I know what grape variety it is; it would be like buying a beer without knowing if it's a stout or a lager. Hence the vast majority of European wines slip beneath my radar. If Europenq vinteners want to stay in business, they need to adapt. If they don't, they only have themselves to blame.

    Regards, Luke


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