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EU votes for longer music copyright

But Cliff won't be happy

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The European Parliament has voted 377 to 178 in favour of extended the copyright term for new sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. It's only a first reading, but it's a strong indication of approval for the bill, introduced by Irish MEP Brian Cowley.

(The Irish are doing all the running on copyright these days. Perhaps our outgoing NuLab crew, with a long exile from Government approaching, are hoping to follow the trail blazed by Richard Sargeant - the civil servant who wrote the Gowers report. After recommending weaker copyright, he landed a plum job at Google. Which sure beats doing the gardening.)

Royalties from this right are divided between the musician and the investor, or sound recording owner. Composition royalties remain at life plus 70 years, the same as author's rights for written material.

The Parliament's proposed term extension falls short of the 95 years recommended by the Commission last July, and contains creator-friendly clauses - in particular, a "use it or lose it" clause. After fifty years, if the record label has forgotten about the recording, or doesn't care, it reverts to the producer or performing artist.

The bill also prevents labels from using old contracts to enforce deductions from the new royalties, and ring fences a percentage of the royalties for session musicians who might have signed away their rights.

However, the bill wouldn't help extend copyright on old recordings. That's going to ruin someone's Summer Holiday. ®

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