EU: Copyright on sound recordings extended from 50 to 70 years

BBC News reports on 12 September 2011: Rock veterans win copyright fight.

On Monday, the EU Council voted to extend the copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. The move follows a campaign by artists like Cliff Richard as well as lesser-known performers, who said they should continue to earn from their creations. Critics argue that many musicians will see little benefit, with most income going to big stars and record labels.

… Under the 50-year rule, the copyright on songs by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who would have expired in the next few years.

… The new law also includes a number of provisions designed to ensure that musicians see a fair proportion of the extra income, including a fund for musicians who signed away their rights when a recording was made. The fund will be financed by record labels, who put aside a percentage of the benefits they get from the prolonged copyright. There is also a clause to allow performers to renegotiate contracts with record labels after 50 years. And artists will be able to regain the rights to a recording if their label has kept it in a vault and not made it available to the public.

The move comes five years after the government-backed Gowers Report into copyright rejected the arguments for an extension. … In May, another government-commissioned report by Professor Ian Hargreaves said the effect of an extension to copyright would be “economically detrimental”.

Jim Killock, executive director of the campaigning organisation the Open Rights Group, said there was “never any evidence it was going to do any good”. He said: “It puts money into the pockets of big labels. It’s unlikely to benefit smaller artists and it will mean that a lot of sound recordings that are out of print will stay out of print.”

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