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Australian Hi-Fi Magazine

March / April 2020

Editor's Lead In
The Curious Incident Of The Video In The Night

Editorial By Greg Borrowman


Australian Hi-Fi Magazine March / April 2020


  Shortly before midnight on the last day of 2019, 75 rare and unpublished recordings by the Rolling Stones were uploaded to YouTube for public viewing. But you needn't bother looking for them now — they were all made private just a few hours into the New Year. 'That's very curious!' you should be thinking to yourself. 'Why ever would anyone do that?' My first thought was that it was a mistake, and the videos were never intended to be uploaded. But it transpires that it was not a mistake: the videos were intentionally posted in order to extend the copyright protection afforded to them in Europe. All the videos posted were covered by a 50-year copyright that was due to expire in 2020… or at least it was due to expire unless the copyright owner — in this case ABKCO — had not made them available to the public before the fifty years was up. It appears that the brief appearance of the videos on YouTube satisfies that condition, which now gives ABKCO a twenty-year copyright extension, to 70 years all up, or 2039, to be precise.

The same copyright law is the reason ABKCO released a '50th Anniversary Limited Deluxe Edition' of The Rolling Stones' groundbreaking multi-platinum selling album Let It Bleed (which does remains available for sale) in November last year, because another clause in the EU directive says that if 50 years has passed since an album was first released, the musicians responsible for it can regain ownership… unless that album has been re-released in some 'new' version, in which case it's protected for a further 20 years.


Australian Hi-Fi Magazine March / April 2020


This twenty-year copyright extension loophole is apparently largely due to behind-the-scenes lobbying by Cliff Richard who, at the ripe old age of 72, thought it wasn't fair his royalty payments should cease just because they were for music he'd made 50 years earlier. 'I created it, I helped to arrange it. I helped sometimes to produce it. And you make this record,' Richard told the BBC. 'And then someone takes it away before you're even dead.'

It also explains the curious subtitle to Bob Dylan's '50th Anniversary Collection' CD-set, only 100 of which were ever released. That subtitle is: 'The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume 1.'


Greg Borrowman




Australian Hi-Fi Magazine

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