Within the European Union, copyright protection lasts 50 years. That means that the golden age of jazz, as defined by Monk and Davis, along with the dawn of American rock music, as defined by Berry and Presley in 1953, will enter the Public Domain on the Continent. European artists, students and casual fans will be allowed to remix, reproduce, compile, study, download and simply appreciate the music for free without being sued and pursued by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Needless to say, record companies are not happy about their European situation. Public domain will allow companies to make money off the music without their permission and can do the same with the creation of derivative works. The record companies are still making money off these early rock tracks and will undoubtedly seek retroactive copyright extension in Europe as they successfully pulled off in the U.S.

Record companies enjoy a 95-year copyright protection courtesy of the late political-Disney, rope-sucker Congressman Sonny Bono and his 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. It completely abandoned the Constitutional mandate to foster copyrights for the Sciences and Useful Arts. It was written exclusively for Disney, complete with retroactive protection, so that they wouldn’t lose their ability to protect Mickey Mouse.

The Bono Act completely ignores the fact that all intellectual property is a derivative of works already in the public domain. The Constitution, in keeping with this idea of derivative works, certainly wasn’t the first document to champion the idea that intellectual property is not physical property and should not be treated as such. The Foundation of Western philosophy in the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and David Hume on the nature of property certainly wasn’t the first to separate the concepts of the intellectual and forms. While the earliest writings on property come from Plato, they are likely derivatives of earlier Egyptian or Sumerian or Persian philosophers.

The entire point of copyright is limited protection to accumulate physical property or money. All ideas are inspired by other ideas and, as such, must ultimately be returned to the public domain. All words, all techniques, all things can ultimately be traced back to a derivative of something shared by all humanity. To treat intellectual property as physical property is to violate a principle fleshed out by Locke that requires that property cannot be owned unless “enough and as good” of the same is left for others.

Record executives did not create these works and the artists are either dead or not making money on their music anymore. Creators of intellectual property understand that their protection lasts for a limited time. They know this before releasing their intellectual property for general consumption. The social and legal contract of copyright sets a specific time for all works to enter the public domain. The purpose of the Constitutional clause to promote sciences and the useful arts was written specifically to prevent large corporations or the government from claiming ownership on ideas and indefinitely milking the public.

The European Union and its member states must stand firm against American record industry crooks. The record companies have no problems with the inevitable releases of punk Elvis, metal Berry, acid Monk or techno Davis; their problem is with the concept that they won’t get paid for the remixes and that they have no philosophical or legal right to continue making money on 50 year old music.

Given the nature of the Internet, European creativity that arises from the rock era entering public domain will reach U.S. shores at the speed of light. Through every media outlet that could and wanted to be bribed, the RIAA has begun a propaganda campaign of declaring all European derivative works to be piracy. As such a loaded term, there’s no better way to consider the concept of “pirate” than the behavior of the RIAA. They seek to prevent Americans from remixing, compiling, studying, downloading or otherwise appreciating the dawn of rock without paying tribute or bearing the label of criminal.

The Bono Act has confirmed that the entire federal government is an armed brothel for the highest bidder. American corporations with the complicity of corrupt politicians, have nullified all of the ideals that started with the creation of the United States of America in 1790. The dollar is the most important thing even if it means ultimately drying up the well of creativity. American media companies don’t understand the mechanics of how they line their own pockets and with associations like the RIAA, and they never will.

European governments standing firm against American corporate greed will not just serve Europeans; it will serve Americans too. The disconnect between Americans and their leaders is so profound and so severe that it will take another giant political entity like the European Union to crystallize the moral, creative, innovative, political, legal and social bankruptcy of the United States.

Any nation that can take our ideals and use them with honesty should certainly do so. A hypocritical leadership does not make the ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution any less noble. They must be carried on because those ideals will make the world a better place. Even if they’re not carried on in North America.

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