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Shock record industry poll: Brits like British musicians

So we should extend copyright? Pull the other one, Cliff

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The British Phonographic Institute unleashed a classic piece of leading questioning in its bid to keep Cliff Richard in botox until the next Millennium Prayer is due.

The record industry body has been lobbying hard for the Treasury's Gowers Review of intellectual property to recommend extension of coyyright on sound recordings from 50 years to 95 years - the same as in the US.

The BPI came up with the conceit of using online polling shop YouGov to ask consumers whether they thought UK recording artists "should be protected for the same number of years as their American counterparts".

Predictably, 62 per cent said yes.

As well as posing a patriotically loaded question, the BPI also tugged on respondents' heart-strings by fingering the artist as the beneficiary of copyright extension. In reality, songwriters already have a 70 year copyright - that is the length of their lifetime plus 70 years; the 50-year rule applies to recording owners like, er, the BPI's major label donors.

The industry has spent a great deal of effort in trying to convince the public and polititians that the streets will be awash with down-at-heel aged musos. Sir Cliff has become spokesbachelor on the issue, presumably because he'll be among the very few artists who are still alive and making royalties on recordings from the 1950s.

Recently, a perhaps less partisan National Consumer Council (NCC) poll found 55 per cent thought they were within their rights to make private copies of their music collections.

Even when handed a hospital pass by the BPI, 18 per cent of its respondents said they were unsure whether UK artists should have parity on copyright length. Given the poor public awareness of intellectual property rights evidenced by the NCC finding, that's a figure certain to rocket if an honest question had been asked.

Which is kind of the point of commissioning an expert review. Gowers is expected to report soon. ®

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