New reports are suggesting that the Government of Canada plans to extend the term of copyright monopoly from 50 years to 70 years for sound recordings. I will give you 4 reasons why this does not further any legitimate public policy goal but rather is mere rent seeking (a money grab) by copyright owners (in particular the record companies):
1. Ever since the Statute of Anne (a mere 12 year term I believe), copyright terms have creeped higher and higher without any empirical reason to support a public policy benefit, e.g. increased incentive to create more or better art or in this case music. In the absence of such data, does anyone really think that artists, or more particularly the record companies that own the sound recordings, will create more or better music if the monopoly is extended yet another 20 years?
2. Most of the money made on a sound recording happens shortly after its release. For some classic songs and albums, significant streams of income still happen several decades down the road. However, by that time, the copyright holders have made bundles and bundles of money, and much more than could ever be justified by the incentive copyright is suppose to provide creators to make art.
3. Despite the apparent support of the extension by Canadian luminaries Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, and Leonard Cohen , each of these artists probably receives about 10-15% (the industry standard) royalty on all sales of sound recordings - meaning the other 85-90% goes to the record companies. What did they do to justify a 20 year term extension? They lobbied long and hard!
4. And even though, as Leonard Cohen is purported to have claimed, some of his sound recordings from the 60s would go off copyright soon if it were not for this extension, his composition or song writing rights will be with him to the end of his days and then another 50 years thereafter (this is a separate copyright with an even longer term). So while he would not receive a cent for the sale of sound recordings if these were to expire soon, he would still receive his royalties (again probably less than the music publishing house) every time someone else played one of his songs.