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Impact of the Fairness in Music Licensing Act of 1998

In 1998, President Clinton signed a highly debated and controversial law extending copyrights covering patented music for an additional twenty years beyond existing protection laws for artists. The bill is known as The Fairness in Music Licensing Act of 1998 or most often referred to as the Sonny Bono Act, properly named the Copyright Term Extension Act or CTEA. When Clinton signed the bill, the artists, their heirs and publishers were legally protected for a total of up to 120 years. See 17 U. S. C. (sections) 302 (Netanel; 92) Arguments against the bill far outnumber favorable support of the law.

Critics argue extending existing copyrighted laws giving the business executives and their beneficiary’s royalties an additional 20 years violates the first amendment rights and gives a few select government people total control over the entire media. “The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) amended the Copyright Act to extend the copyright term for an additional 20 years. The term extension applies not only to works created after the CTEA’s effective date, but also retrospectively to subsisting copyrights in existing works.

New authors do not benefit at all from the CTEA’s retroactive application to existing copyrights” (Netanel) The argument against the bill states that new artists must pay royalties without any assurance of success of their works. The original publishers, record producers and artists initially took these same financial risks, no one objected. The legislation that passed the CTEA is accused of supporting a government monopoly while deceptively claiming to protect the rights of the artists and their immediate beneficiary’s.

According to critics, people whom contributed nothing to the development of the music are receiving royalties at the expense of new artists and new company’s. “The middleman—and heirs—continue to want to be paid. Decisions about how long they will be paid are always going to be arbitrary, but there seems little reason to provide retroactive legal protection decades after a creator is dead. “(Thierer and Crews xxvi) Such strong arguments opposing the CTEA bill indicates there is much more restrictions placed on artists than what is being publicized.

Otherwise, upcoming artists and general public would not object to giving proper credit to the artists and the supporting people who created the movies, music, films, videos. Music, theatre, paintings, writings and other works of art are created continuously reinventing previous artists works from century’s ago. Artists are eager and actually want to give proper credit to the originators whom inspired them, allowing their new art ideas to be published, with or without existing laws. This law raises more questions.

There are usually hidden agendas and messages behind new laws, rules or regulations. Sometimes, such laws are used to target just one or two individuals. Sometimes laws are created to give certain political groups more rights at the expense of everyone else. Insiders and researchers writing articles seem to know unmentioned objectives regarding the CTEA that most of the people do not know. Did the legislation signing the laws really intend on legally and financially protecting the welfare of the artists and record companies?

“Most expect that within a few years, just three companies [will] control more than 85 percent of the media. ” (Taylor) Is this law to support the global economy? The impact of the fairness in music licensing act can result in increased prices for entertainment, such as movie tickets.

Works Cited

Netanel, Neil Weinstock. “Locating Copyright within the First Amendment Skein. ” Stanford Law Review 54. 1 (2001): 1+. Questia. 7 Mar. 2008 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst?

a=o&d=5000917095>. Taylor, Russ. “Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. ” Federal Communications Law Journal 57. 1 (2004): 161+. Questia. 7 Mar. 2008 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5008913304>. Thierer, Adam, and Wayne Crews, eds. Copy Fights: The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information Age. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2002. Questia. 7 Mar. 2008 <http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=103202276>.

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