Europe Extends Copyrights

A European Union ruling will enable performers and producers to enjoy the fruits of their labour for a further 20 years.

On Sept. 12 EU lawmakers responded to a long-running campaign by record companies and artists wanting to secure royalty revenues before their 50-year copyrights expire on hits from the 1960s.

Composers have copyright over their music until 70 years after their deaths, but for artists and musicians who made their names with or performed on songs written by others, the copyright ran out after 50 years.

The news that the EU’s council of ministers would likely extend the copyright protection period – what’s become known as “Cliff Richard’s law” – had already received a warm welcome from the UK’s older generation of performers.

“It’s extremely good news,” Roger Daltrey of The Who told The Guardian. “Musicians need to be paid. There are thousands of small musicians whose independence relies on the little bit of royalty, for work they did in the 1960s, they get by way of a pension.”

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry chief exec Frances Moore greeted the confirmation of the change as “a victory for fairness.”

“With this decision, the European Union is giving artists and producers in Europe the fair treatment they deserve. The extension of the term of protection to 70 years narrows the gap between Europe and its international partners and improves the conditions for investment in new talent,” he explained.

“Over 38,000 artists and performers petitioned for this extension, supported by rights holders from across the European music sector.

Their calls have been heeded, and we thank the European Commission for having the vision to table this directive, the European parliament for giving it resounding support and the member states for making term extension a reality.”

All EU member states are expected to implement the changes within two years.

The new directive also narrows the gap between the term of protection in Europe and that of other countries and regions, where term of protection can range from 70 to 95 years.