Thursday, April 23, 2009

European Parliament voted for a 70-year copyright protection

From ""

MEPs back 70-year copyright
By Jim Brunsden
European Parliament's compromise proposal would extend copyright by 20 years.

The European Parliament today voted to extend copyright on music recordings from 50 to 70 years. Supporters say that the extension will protect Europe's creative talent. Opponents argue that it will benefit only major record companies and top-earning performers at the expense of consumers.

The European Commission proposed last year that copyright should be extended to 95 years, but MEPs opted for 70 years to smooth negotiations on the draft legislation with member states. Several national governments have expressed concerns that the Commission's proposal will have negative repercussions.

MEPs voted that record producers should be required to place 20% of the extra revenue they gain from the copyright extension into a fund for session musicians. They also approved a ‘use it or lose it' clause allowing performers to recover their rights to a recording after 50 years if the record label does not market it.

Charlie McCreevy, the European commissioner for internal market, welcomed the vote. “Talking to the performers, not the superstars, made me realise that something needed to be done,” he said. The Commission has said the extension is needed to “bridge the income gap the performers face when they turn 70”, which it describes as “the most vulnerable period in their lives”.

The IFPI, an international association representing the recording industry, has argued that the current 50-year limit is lower than in many other countries and places Europe at a creative disadvantage.

Jacques Toubon, a French centre-right MEP, said the legislation is needed to “strengthen intellectual property” and support creative talent.

The European Parliament's liberal and green groups have both criticised the outcome of the vote. Caroline Lucas, a UK green MEP, said the extension “will fill the pockets of a limited number of powerful corporations and harm performer rights and artistic creativity”. She added that disc-jockeys who want to use samples from different songs will be “hit by a more restrictive choice of music in the public domain”. Sharon Bowles, a UK liberal, said that the vote “leaves recording companies with the lion's share of everything”.

National governments have yet to reach agreement among themselves on the draft legislation. A diplomat said that Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia and Romania are all opposed to the extension. A Czech official said that discussions in the Council of Ministers are ongoing, but that a first reading agreement with parliament is unlikely.

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