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Copyright extension back on the European agenda

By | Published on Wednesday 13 April 2011


2013 is approaching people, and ‘Love Me Do’ is still set to come out of copyright in Europe that year, and from that point onwards the crown jewels of British rock n roll, still sizable earners for the UK record industry, will start to fall out of copyright. Unless, of course, the record labels can get the copyright term on sound recordings extended from the current fifty years.

As previously reported, lobbying efforts on the part of the record industry on copyright extension have been significant for years now, and officially UK government’s policy is supportive of extending the term to 70 years, but copyright terms are a European matter and any extension would have to be EU wide.

Back in 2009 significant moves were made at a European level thanks the efforts of EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy, with both the Commission and European Parliament backing an extension to 70 years.

But when the issue reached the Council Of Ministers, ie ministerial representatives from each member state, things faltered, partly because some countries opposed the extension outright, and also because of disagreements on how far to extend the term, and whether to give some extra statutory rights to recording artists whose sound recordings are owned by a record label when the initial fifty years is up. With 2009’s European elections providing a fixed deadline on the issue, in the end nothing happened and whole thing fell off the agenda.

But according to reports, the current Hungarian presidency of the EU is hoping to reopen the debate before the end of June, giving record labels new hope that they might as yet meet the deadline of 1 Jan 2013 for having the copyright term extended. Hopes have also been heightened by the news that Denmark, who previously opposed extension outright, have now softened on the issue, possibly ensuring a smoother ride this time.

Either way, expect the record industry’s lobbyists in Brussels to be working some overtime in the next few months.