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Music industry will take copyright battle to Europe

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The recording industry's continuing bid to exploit works for an extra 45 years should be disregarded by government as not in the public interest.

That's according to Andrew Gowers, who delivered a wide-ranging review of intellectual property rights in the UK to the Treasury yesterday. The government accepted the recommendations of the review in the Pre-Budget Report.

Record industry trade body the BPI vowed to send lobbyists to Brussels to push for the extension when the European Commission reviews the relevant directive next year.

Gowers told The Register: "They [the EU] will surely be descended upon by the lobbyists in the coming months."

But the former journalist was confident in his findings on copyright term, which is among the first government-instigated examinations of the issue in the EU. He said: "I'm sure it will be read with particular interest in Europe."

The British music industry is healthier than its American counterpart, Gowers said, and any European moves to bow to pressure and ignore his evidence-based assessment would be "politics getting in the way".

BPI chairman Peter Jamieson accused the review of setting out to make the case against extension from the start. He said: "Gowers commissioned Cambridge economic research to argue the case against term extension."

The review employed Cambridge University's Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law to perform "an independent assessment of the economic evidence".

A record company whip-round paid for a full page advertisement in the Financial Times today to continue the battle. It calls for term extension under the heading "fair play for musicians". Gowers said his analysis had found the benefactors of an extension would mostly be "major record labels and their shareholders". ®

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