Cliff Richard - old, decrepit, past its prime, obsolete, decaying, fragile... no, no, that's what Cliff is fighting. We love Cliff. He's like the barmy Christian neighbour we all wished we had - our very own Ned Flanders. Two years from now and the earliest of Cliff's hits will no longer be in copyright meaning he'll be missing out on revenue from them. He'd like to see copyright for artists extended the same way that it is for songwriters. Unfortunately that puts him in opposition with the very people who'd like to archive not only his work, but everyone else's too:
Part of the UK's national music archive could be lost as a result of copyright law, the British Library has warned. The library's Sound Archive cannot copy audio from fragile or obsolete formats for posterity until copyright runs out... The library said a "significant" part of the collection could "decay and be unavailable for future generations". The Sound Archive holds more than a million discs, 185,000 tapes and many other sound and video recordings. It currently collects about 75% of all music released commercially in the UK and also includes plays, poetry, speeches, interviews, and wildlife sounds. Launching its intellectual property "manifesto" on Monday, the British Library called on the government to ensure recordings are not left to rot. "Currently the law does not permit copying of sound and film items for preservation," the manifesto said. "Without the right to make copies, the UK is losing a large part of its recorded culture. "Many original audio and film formats we hold are becoming increasingly more fragile," the library said, and "face irretrievable decay" if not preserved.
If Cliff gets his way and copyright is further extended it means the law abiding folk at the British Library will have to sit back and let nature take its course. The irony is that Cliff's career could get a healthy revival once his crap was out of copyright, as the kids would be able to remix and mash the bejesus out of it.
The story also paints a chilling image of the future:
As well as old and fragile formats, the archive must also copy recordings on obsolete formats - such as Betamax and reel-to-reel audio tape - to ensure they can be heard in the future when machines no longer exist to play them.
A world without top-loading Betamax video players with buttons bigger than iPods... shudder.