Copyright Likely To Last 70 Years

Older musicians appear to be in for a financial windfall after the European parliament voted to extend the copyright on sound recordings to 70 years.

To become law, the plan still needs to be passed by EU states in the European council. It would also include extra benefits for performers and session musicians.

Performers and record labels earn royalties for 50 years, but that would increase for a further 20 years.

EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy had proposed prolonging performance copyright for singers and musicians to 95 years, but it was dismissed as too long.

The new law would also provide for a new fund for session musicians who signed away their rights when a recording was made. The fund would be financed by record labels, which would put aside 20 percent of the benefits they get from the prolonged copyright. There is also a clause to allow performers to renegotiate contracts with record labels after 50 years.

However, artists would be able to regain the rights to a recording much earlier if the label has kept it in a vault and not made it available to the public.
The plan was adopted by a vote of 377 to 178 in the European parliament’s Strasbourg chamber. If approved by the European council, the law would apply to all sound recordings less than 50 years old, as well as new recordings.

Copyright for composers and songwriters is a separate law and lasts for 70 years after the death of the writer.

The Beatles’ first release is due to go out of copyright in 2012, with early Rolling Stones hits following in 2013.

Cliff Richard, Roger Daltrey and Paul McCartney are among the artists who have campaigned for a change, alongside thousands of session musicians.
The U.K. music industry welcomed the vote in a joint statement from the BPI, which represents record labels, the Association of Independent Music, the Musicians’ Union and PPL, which licenses sound recordings.