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arsclist Eldred case

Dear All,
    I have thought long and hard before replying to Jim Farrington's posting
about the extension of copyright term. I hope our moderator will not
discourage discussion on this topic (because of "political" issues), and in
any case under British law it might be regarded as *sub judice*. So I shall
not comment about the case as such. But I hope to show there is a way out of
the difficulty, which has been adopted by several other countries (including
    Firstly, it is necessary to explain the reason behind extending authors'
rights from fifty years after death to seventy years. Here in Europe there
are significant numbers of cultures and languages which are spoken by
declining numbers of people. In my job, for example, I am required to be
aware of the troubles experienced by speakers of Welsh and Gaelic. The
increasing dominance of English is diluting such cultures to the point of
extinction. (Personally, I am horribly aware how much fine Welsh music we
never hear in London).  Most other countries of the world have extended
authors' rights to "life-plus-seventy" specifically to nurture writing in
languages such as these; it is now a requirement of all Berne Convention
countries. I fear many people may see the action proposed by Jim Farrington
as constituting (a) the promotion of "globalisation", and (b) supporting
unfair competition.
    However, although I am not an ARSC member, the solution for ARSC members
seems very simple. Do what we did in our 1988 Copyright Act. Have a clause
(in our case, Section 75) which provides special privileges for "Libraries
and Archives" for various copyright purposes. By the time this became law on
1st August 1989, I am pleased to report that the British Library was one of
four such organisations registered with the Secretary of State and allowed
to do certain otherwise-copyright acts for archival purposes. Under British
law, the organisation has to be registered with the Secretary of State who
publishes a Schedule of the organisations concerned, and under the Act he
has only to be satisfied that the Library or Archive "is not conducted
principally for profit". I have consistently encouraged sound collections in
Britain to claim this exemption.
    May I suggest readers on the other side of the pond use democratic
processes to get a similar piece of legislation there?
Peter Copeland
British Library National Sound Archive

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