The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee has approved a European Commission bill to extend music copyright from 50 to 95 years. The bill, drafted by Irish MEP Brian Cowley says performers should benefit equally from the extension (release). The Commission will also look at copyright relating to audio-visual works by 2010.
Recently launched music biz umbrella group UK Music welcomed the move, but the law still has to be passed by the European Council of Ministers and ratified by individual governments: France and Germany are backing the proposal but the UK has yet to say whether it will — our calls to the Intellectual Property Office this morning went unanswered.
Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said he would like to like to increase music copyright length, perhaps up to 70 years, arguing there was a “moral case” for doing so in a speech last December.
It’s good news for Cliff Richard, some of whose works are now passing out of copyright — but critics say the proposals would stifle the digital creativity of Europe’s young musicians. Burnham was branded “silly and out of touch” by Andrew Gowers, former FT editor and author of the 2006 review into IP, who said few artists would materially benefit from such an extension and big music labels with profitable back catalogues would come out better off. His advice to the industry was salient: “Please focus on innovation, not on trying to eke more rent from the successes of yesteryear.“
Out-going Open Rights Group director Becky Hogge went even further in a speech last week: “All the evidence shows that the term extension directive will do very little and almost nothing to help the poor performer and everything to line the pockets of the world