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New voices from the major copyright experts in the European universities and
research centers question the current EU proposals of extension of the
copyright term for the performing artists and sound recordings.

As previously covered in the past EDRi-gram, the first letter was addressed
to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and sent on 18 July 2008 by
the leading European centres for intellectual property research that
explained that the new measures “will damage European creative endeavour and
innovation beyond repair.”

Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law
(IViR) that was commissioned by the EC to draft two major studies on the EU
copyright and policy, questioned the Commission decision, calling its
policies: “less the product of a rational decision-making process than of
lobbying by stakeholders.” Prof. Hugenholtz was very unhappy about the
Commission decision that totally contradicts and ignores IViR’s scientific

“As you are certainly aware, one of the aims of the ‘Better Regulation’
policy that is part of the Lisbon agenda is to increase the transparency of
the EU legislative process. By wilfully ignoring scientific analysis and
evidence that was made available to the Commission upon its own initiative,
the Commission’s recent Intellectual Property package does not live up to
this ambition. Indeed, the Commission’s obscuration of the IViR studies and
its failure to confront the critical arguments made therein seem to reveal
an intention to mislead the Council and the Parliament, as well as the
citizens of the European Union.

In doing so the Commission reinforces the suspicion, already widely held
by the public at large, that its policies are less the product of a rational
decision-making process than of lobbying by stakeholders. This is
troublesome not only in the light of the current crisis of faith as regards
the European lawmaking institutions, but also – and particularly so – in
view of European citizens’ increasingly critical attitudes towards
intellectual property law.”

Further arguments against the decision come from a statement from another
leading IP centre in European – Max Planck Institute for Intellectual
Property, Competition and Tax Law. In an article that concerns the
Commission’s plans to prolong the protection period for performing artists
and sound recordings, the authors emphasize that there is no specific reason
for a term extension and argue that the proposal diverts the attention from
the social problem that performing artists, in particular at
the start of their career, often have a very bad negotiation position
vs. publishers and record companies – which should be remedied by special
copyright contract law.

The document concludes in pointing out that: “no persuasive economic or
social reason can be found in favour of a term extension since extending the
term would neither increase the incentives to invest nor would it provide
financial security and a sufficient livelihood for all ageing musicians,
especially not for those who need it the most. It would rather have a
negative impact upon future creators and musicians, since they would need to
wait longer to build upon older works in order to create new ones. Besides,
a term extension would also be to the detriment of consumers and the
information society since sound recordings would be locked up for another 45

Open Letter concerning European Commission’s `Intellectual Property Package’

“Statement of the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property,
Competition and Tax Law Concerning the Commission’s Plans to Prolong the
Protection Period for Performing Artists and Sound Recordings”
by Nadine Klass, Josef Drexl, Reto M. Hilty, Annette Kur and Alexander
Peukert”, IIC 2008, p. 586-596.

Commission adviser accuses Barroso of intentionally misleading European
policy-makers and citizens on copyright (21.08.2008)

EDRi-gram: Extension of the copyright term for performers and record
producers (30.07.2008)