UK Government now in favour of the extension of the copyright term

By EDRi · December 17, 2008

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At UK Music’s Creators’ Conference on 1 December 2008, Culture Minister Andy
Burnham announced the backing of the UK Government to extending the
copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years.

The decision goes against the recommendations of Andrew Gowers, whose 2006
review of copyright is in favour of keeping copyright at 50 years. It is
however more in line with the proposals made in February 2008 by EC Internal
Markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy to increase the term of protection to
95 years.

Presently, the revenues from a sound recording goes to the musicians who
performed on the recording and to the owners of the recording. Burnham
clearly supports the former and called on the music business to make sure
the measure benefits musicians and not the industry big companies. “We want
the industry to come back with good, workable ideas as to how a proposal on
copyright extension might be framed that directly and predominantly benefits
performers – both session and featured musicians,” he declared.

The EC proposition adopted on 16 July 2008 introduces the extension of the
term not only for the performers but also for the producers. The proposal
has been largely opposed, many arguing that the copyright extension will be
detrimental to innovation and creativity and that other measures would be
more appropriate and efficient to support aging performers.

The extension of the copyright term was also discussed on 2-3 December 2008
in the Competitiveness Council that backed the Progress report adopted at
the end of November. The report states that the extension of the term to 95
years is considered by some Member States as too long, doubting the capacity
of the proposal to reach its objective in a satisfactory and balanced way.
However, some of these Member States might accept a more moderate extension.

As a response to concerns expressed by some of the Member States that the
measure might be discriminatory if only applied to the music sector, the
presidency of the Council proposed that the extended term should cover
audiovisual performers as well.

Concerning the right of session musicians to claim additional annual
remuneration and the performers’ option to recuperate their rights in the
absence of exploitation by the phonogram producer, the presidency has
proposed that such rights might not be waived and the “use it or lose it”
clause for copyright – where the ownership of forgotten recordings reverts
to the performer – cannot be renounced by performers. Discussion on the
topic should continue.

As to the question of the harmonisation of the method of calculating the
term of protection of musical compositions with words, the Presidency
suggested the limitation of the scope to musical compositions and lyrics
specifically created to constitute a musical composition with words. The
question of the period of application is still to be settled.

The draft Directive is also considered within the European Parliament. The
non-leading Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)
adopted the Emmanouil Angelakas’ (EPP-ED – Greece) draft opinion on 2
December 2008. Just a few amendments were adopted, among them the
application of the extended term of protection (95 years) not only to music
performers but also to audiovisual performers.

On 19 January 2009, the Legal Affairs Committee is expected to adopt its
report and the Parliament will vote on the proposal in plenary on 18
February 2009.

Government signals extension to copyright term (11.12.2008)

Music copyright extension – strings attached (12.12.2008)

The Council of Europe Presidency PROGRESS REPORT – Proposal for a Directive
of the European Parliament and of the Council Directive amending Directive
2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the term of
protection of copyright and related rights (26.11.2008)

Press release – 2910th meeting of the Council – Competitiveness (internal
market, industry and research) (1-2.12.2008)

EDRigram – Extension of the copyright term for performers and record
producers (30.07.2008)