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Who supports longer copyright?

November 12th, 2006 · No Comments

Various news outlets today have been claiming that the Public ’support longer copyright’. I quote from the BBC article:

62% of people polled by YouGov for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) think UK artists should be protected for 95 years, as they are in the US.

I found this very surprising – I can hardly believe that many people in the UK really care about copyright durations, and I imagine that those that do are likely to be opposed to it. This survey, of course, shows that I’m wrong. Or am I? It all depends on the exact question that was asked int he survey. The Observer article puts a slightly different slant on it:

The study, by YouGov, found that 62 per cent of those polled believe British artists should receive the same copyright protection as their US counterparts.

Ah… this is obviously not the same thing as the British public actually wanting 45 years added to copyright. This is the public wanting copyright parity with the US, without necessarily knowing (or being told) what the US or UK copyright regimes actually are. If people were asked the question ‘Do you think British artists should receive the same copyright protection as those in the US?’, I’m hardly surprised that they agreed. Why wouldn’t they? The US seems to be a reasonable enough place, so surely we should have the same copyright rules.

Unfortunately for the BPI, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement for their aim of enriching their members. The simple fact is that they can’t risk an open question of prolonging copyright, because there’s a real chance that most people would be against it, hence the reason for disguising the question.

I would dearly love to find out the exact data gathered by YouGov for this BPI survey. Hopefully it’ll be released next week and we can find out whether I’m right. The problem is that even if I am right, it’s hardly likely that any newspapers will bother changing their articles.

One more quote from the Observer:

Just under 70 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds hold that view, the highest of any age group surveyed. That is likely to surprise some observers, as they are the generation most likely to illegally download songs.

If it surprised you, why didn’t you spend a minute to look into it? Or perhaps that’s not your job as a journalist.

Tags: music · newspaper · politics

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