Private property rights, as Jeremy Corbyn’s critics often remind us, are the foundation stone of free markets. Mess about with them and the whole Jenga tower of our prosperity could come crashing down.
Yet how do we define “property”? The image that springs to mind when we hear that word is probably land. Give or take the occasional squabble over a boundary wall, we generally know where our little castles start and end (assuming we’re lucky enough to have one). A farmer, similarly, knows where the edges of her fields are. Under the law, no one, not even the state (except in extreme circumstances and in return for fair compensation), can expropriate our house, or our fields, or our businesses premises. What’s ours is ours.
But much property in a modern economy is intangible, and not as intuitively definable as land. If you own a business you have a right to the profits, after tax. If you have money in the bank, you have a right to receive the interest payments. That’s straightforward enough.
But what about “intellectual” property? What about the rights to the revenues from a popular new drug that a pharmaceutical company has invented, but which could be easily recreated by competitors? What about software? Algorithms? That’s where patent laws enter: time-limited protective monopolies granted by the state.
And for films and songs we have copyright law. It emerged this week that the band Radiohead are asserting their property rights over a piece of music. They feel that parts of a song by Lana Del Rey called Get Free “use musical elements” from their breakthrough 1993 hit, Creep.
Radiohead have denied Del Rey’s Twitter claim that they are suing her and that the band is demanding “100 per cent” of any publishing royalties from Get Free. But it’s difficult to see why they have been in “discussions” with her since August unless money is at stake.
In a much-noted irony, Radiohead were themselves previously sued by two songwriters who claimed Creep breached their own property rights to 1972 hit “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies. Radiohead were forced to acknowledge a song-writing debt and split the royalties. Perhaps they feel it’s payback time.
Defenders of copyright law in music and film generally argue it’s necessary to encourage creative endeavour. To some extent that might be true (although the folk music tradition, which is largely based on the appropriation and incremental refinement of others’ material, seems to have thrived before the era of modern copyright laws).
The 20 most ridiculous things superstar musicians have demanded at their concerts
1 Large table for catering dressed with white tablecloths.
Dressing room should be 78 degrees
4 Brand New White Towels in bathroom (2 face & 2 body)
Juicy Baked Chicken: Legs, Wings & Breast only (Please season with fresh garlic, season salt, black pepper, and Cayenne pepper HEAVILY SEASONED!!)
Steamed Garlic Broccoli
Lightly Seasoned Green Beans
Lightly Seasoned Steamed Spinach
Beyoncé can only have Pepsi products.
1 Case of Aquafina water (half cold, half room temperature)
1 Hot Tea Set up (Please have NEW Coffee Pot)
Sliced Lemons Wedges
Rose scented candles
Lighter for candles
12 Small bottles still (non-carbonated) spring water (at room temperature)
1 Electric kettle for BOILING water
6 Large mugs for tea. All mugs should be new, washed and dried.
6 metal teaspoons
2 “Squeezy” bottles clear honey (not organic)
1 Bottle very best quality red wine (Italian, French or Spanish)
1 Assortment of chewing gum
1 Pack Marlboro Light plus 1 disposable cigarette lighter
1 Small selection fresh fruit, to include bananas, apples, grapes, fresh berries NO CITRUS FRUIT!
1 Small plate of assorted freshly made, individually wrapped sandwiches, to include chicken salad. Sandwiches must NOT contain tomatoes, vinegar, chili or citrus fruit
1 Tub Plain Yogurt for dipping
4 small Yoplait Yogurt
1 Bowl of assorted nuts
1 Bowl of Sunkist Salted Pistachio Nuts (No Red Coloring)
2 Packs of Extra Chewing Gum
1 Bottle of Hot Sauce (Tabasco, Caribbean Type)
1 Box of Toothpicks
1 750 ml bottle of Hennessey Liquor
1 750 ml bottle of SKY or Absolut Vodka
1 Bottle of Patron Silver Tequila
4 Six Packs of Heineken Beer
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty, David Parsons/iStock
5 AC power outlets
Adequate lighting for a “relaxed atmosphere”
White drapes to cover lockers and/or brick
1 Large throw rug — plush and animal print (Cheetah, Leopard) … must be CLEAN, as she will walk on it barefoot.
Pipe and Drape the room in Dark Blue or Black drapes with Icy Blue Chiffon draped nicely on top
6 Candles — Archipelago Black Forest (if you can’t get these, please let me know ASAP as we have a 2nd choice of candle for Ri).
4 Small, clear, square vases with White Tulips, no foliage (2nd choice: White Casablanca Lilies no foliage, 3rd choice: White Freesia, no foliage)
Arrangement of pink fresh flowers. White and purple hydrangeas, pink & white roses and peonies. If not available, seasonal white flowers to include white orchids–ABSOLUTELY NO CARNATIONS.
A box of Huggies baby nature care wipes
6 Vitamin waters zero, assorted flavors
Bowl of whole fresh organic grown fruit (apples, bananas, oranges and grapes)
Plate of fresh-cut Crudités (to include cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snap peas, celery) w/ ranch dip
Snyder’s of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel
Jar of Salsa
Baked (blue corn if possible) Tortilla Chips
Freeze dried strawberries
2 bottles of Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio
Throat coat, Twinnings Chamomile PG tips and Mint medley tea.
Fuze slenderize assorted flavors
A jar of quality honey
Plastic drinking straws
All lamps must be halogen floor lamps with dimmer switch.
Only animal free materials (cottons, denims, velour, etc.)
Do not provide furniture made of any animal skin or print.
Do not provide artificial versions of animal skin or print either.
No leather seating is allowed in the black stretch limousine either.
Arrange for a dry cleaner before arrival.
6 Full and leafy floor plants, but no trees.
We want plants that are just as full on the bottom as the top such as palm, bamboo, peace lilies, etc. No tree trunks!
$50.00 – One large arrangement of white Casablanca lilies with lots of foliage.
$40.00 – One long stemmed arrangement of pale pink and white roses with lots of foliage.
$35 One arrangement of freesia. It comes in various colors so please mix them up. Freesia is a favorite.
20 dozen clean towels outside of the production office
Each room must be draped. Black drapes are fine.
The entry door should open into the living room space, not the dressing room.
Temperature should be about 75 degrees.
1 Three Seat Couch — Plain Color, no busy patterns; black, dark grey, cream, dark pink are fine
12 1 Liters of Fiji Water
3 Bottles Chardonnay — Chilled
12 Diet Coke
12 Vanilla Protein Drinks
6 Sparkling Water (Pellegrino)
12 Melon Flavor Gatorade
6 Red Wine Glasses
6 White Wine Glasses
4 Joe Malone Vanilla Candles
2 Vases White Roses
Fried Chicken (warm)
12 Small Bottles water (room temperature)
3 Whole lemons and honey
25 pound dumbbells
24-Diet Coke 16oz plastic bottles
12 Diet Coke 12oz cans
6 Verner ginger ale soda (or Schweppes)
48 Daisani, Poland Spring 12oz bottles “NO Evian”
1 Loaf white bread
1 Loaf wheat bread
6 Lunchables snacks (3 turkeys & 3 ham with cheese)
6 Cans Red Bull
16 Cans Sugar-Free Red Bull
Large fresh jumbo shrimps with cocktail sauce and plenty of lemons
1 Jar of banana pepper rings
6 Bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne
3 Bottles of French Vintage red wine (e.g. St Emilion, Medoc, Bordeaux)
3 Bottles of French Vintage white wine (e.g. Sancerre, Pouilly Fuisse)
2 Dozen Findeclare or Colchester Oysters on ice (unopened)—(Grace does her own shucking.)
2 Sashimi and Sushi platters for 8 people
6 Fresh lemons
1 Bottle of Tabasco sauce
1 Fresh fruit platter for 8 people
6 Bottles of Coca Cola
12 Bottles of still and sparkling water
12 Bottles of fresh fruit juices
Wine glasses, champagne flutes, tumblers (all glass, no plastic)
Cutlery and sharp knife
1 Oyster knife
1 Make up mirror (no neon strip lighting, only opaque white bulbs)
Fresh towels, clothes hangers, clothes rail
3-4 Bunches of flowers—prefer lilys and orchids
Sofa and arm chairs
Four dozen natural-scented incense sticks
Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap
E-Z Wider rolling papers and a pack of Dutch Master President cigars
Bottles of Jack Daniel’s
Patron Silver tequila
A bottle of Hennesey or Courvoisier
Andis T-Outliner trimmers
Extra sets of speakers
1 dozen chicken wings (buffalo, teryaki, suprise us)
1 bowl of FRESH HOME-MADE GUACAMOLE
8 champagne flutes (real glass)
8 wine glasses (real glass)
8 highball glasses (real glass)
1 hummus & pita chips
iPod player with sufficient volume control
NO fluorescent lighting
PLEASE NOTE: This is a NO BANANA TOUR. (Seriously)
2o international phone lines
Her backstage room must look exactly like her own home (that means she ships around her furniture)
Special flower-scented fabric
Personal chef who prepares only vegan foods
Her own dry-cleaning service
Alicia Keys performs at the UEFA Champions League Final
7 sets of metal silverware
3 Glade Candles (French Vanilla, Rain shower, Wild Berry, Tangerine Ginger)
3 Cans of Chunk White Tuna
10 Nutri-Grain Bars (Blueberry, Cherry, Apple, Strawberry)
6 Individual Packets of Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal (Brown Sugar and Apple Cinnamon)
1 Assorted Fruit Platter with strawberries, seedless red grapes, bananas, mango, blueberries, cantaloupe and raspberries
2 Cases of beer (one imported and one domestic; brands preferred: Amstel Light, Corona, Bud, Bud Light or local beer)
3 menus for local seafood and Italian restaurants to order meals for Alicia
Mary J. Blige
10 medium prewashed bath sized towels
NO DAIRY OR PORK OF ANY KIND!!
10 1.5 liter bottles of FIJI water (absolutely, positively must be FIJI)
6 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper
6 cans of Schweeps Ginger Ale
2 packs of Mentos — cinnamon fresh only
6 cans of Red Bull energy drink
6 bottles of Black Cherry Propells in sports bottle
8 sets of silverware
1 tub of clean ice
2 Bottles of white wine with wine opener — Kendall Jackson or Robert Mondavi preferred
1 Pack of Straws
1 Cushioned office style chair
TV with cable and a DVD player
1 Rolling clothing rack
4 Unscented candles
Tea kettle, organic ginger and lemongrass tea and honey are very important.
1 4 pack of Red Bull Light (on ice)
2 Bottles of Green Tea
1 Container of Guacamole
Hot dogs (Yves veggie dogs eaten with toothpicks)
A smoothie station (with frozen berries, fuze and whey protein or non-fat Greek yogurt) Blender needed
1 Plate of cheese (non-smelly, non-sweaty on ice) with whole wheat/healthy crackers
A mix of assorted fresh fruit (cut and must have edible skin OR edible seeds OR citrus)
1 Wig Room
1 Room for Dr. Stacey
1 bottle of fine red wine (No Kendall Jackson)
1 bottle of fine white wine (No Kendall Jackson)
4 Diet Cokes
1 coffee table
1 end table for the phone to be placed on
TV with VCR with a cable Hook up. Please make sure we can get the following channels: Turner Classic Movies or AMC
If arriving before 11 a.m., the following from Starbucks:
1 Grande ICED Caramel Latte w/ 2 sweet-n-lows
1 Grande ICED Americano w/ 2 sweet-n-lows with soy milk
1 slice pumpkin loaf
1 Stick Butter
3 Boxes Kraft Macaroni/Cheese
2 Four Packs of Red Bull
1 12 Pack Corona Beer
1 12 Pack New Castle Beer
1 Bottle Welch’s Grape Juice
1 Bag of Twizzlers red licorice
1 Case of Smart Water
1 Pint Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
1 Pint Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Brownie Frozen Yogurt
A copy of USA Today that’s got a story about morbidly obese people in it
6 bottles of Grolsch or decent local beer
F——— loads of good red wines
6 large bottles of good quality sparkling water
3 cases x 12 oz bottles of still mineral water
6 bottles of alcohol free beer
1 case of big bottles of good, premium beer
A bottle of vodka
Cauliflower/broccoli, cut into individual florets and thrown immediately into the garbage. I f——— hate that
M&MS (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)
1 large tube of KY jelly
3 packs of Marlboro cigarettes (box)
Herring in sour cream
2 gallons non-carbonated, bottled spring water
3 fifths Jack Daniels Black Label bourbon
2 fifths Stolichnaya vodka
1 pint Southern Comfort
2 bottles Blue Nun white wine
But a crucial question is: how long should copyright last? How many years of exclusive property rights represent fair compensation for an artist or performer? When copyright laws were first established in Britain for books in the early 18th century the term was just 14 years.
When copyright was standardised internationally in the Berne Convention in 1886 this was extended to the remaining lifetime of the artist plus 50 years. The economic significance of that should be plain: an artist cannot benefit from royalties paid after their death. This effectively made these property rights hereditable.
And there have been further extensions in recent decades, driven not by artistic need but by corporate lobbying. Walt Disney in 1998 successfully lobbied the US Congress to extend its exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse, which were set to expire in 2003, by a further twenty years. There have been similar extensions of the copyright term, after intense corporate pressure by the music industry, in the European Union.
What is the economic value of these alterations of the law? The answer is a depressing one. There is no evidence that the benefits of copyrights of the current inordinate lengths outweigh the costs. Extensions of copyright terms and aggressive assertions of their breach in the cultural realm are not really about the preservation of wealth-generating property rights. They are about wealth extraction: the simple shifting of resources from one group to another. Hail to the thief indeed.