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EU gets another step closer to 95 year copyrights

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 13 Feb 2009 11:31 User comments (9)

EU gets another step closer to 95 year copyrights The European Parliament's Committee On Legal Affairs is proposing that copyright term for sound recordings be extended to 95 years. It would nearly double the current 50 year limit, although some countries are already considering an extension beyond that point.
On the surface this is quite similar to the Copyright Term Extension Act passed into US law in the late 1990s. But a closer look reveals some interesting differences that at least attempt to benefit artists.

One major difference between the US law and the proposed EU directive is the performer's financial obligation to their label. When an album is released the artist typically receives no royalties at first as they're used to pay back whatever advance the label has given them.

In many cases this amount is never paid back, resulting in the label keeping all artist royalties long after they've written off the advance as a business expense. Under the terms of Legal Affairs Committee's recommendation the advance debt would be wiped out after 50 years, allowing them to collect their full share of royalties.

Committee members noted "This provision is essential for performers to enjoy all the royalties due to them for the extended period, against a refusal by labels, on grounds that advance payments to the artists have still not been recouped. Without this additional provision, the extension of the term of protection may ultimately only be beneficial to a minority of featured artists."

Session musicians, who often receive no royalties whatsoever, are also given consideration. The committee explains, "Some performers whose names appear in the credits “featured performers” transfer their exclusive rights against a one-off payment. These performers should also benefit from the supplementary remuneration."

Despite their good intentions, the reasoning behind this proposal still seems flawed. In an accompanying memorandum the committee notes that "in the UK, in 2001, only 5% of performers earned over £10000 annually." If they're not making a living from royalties during the first 50 years it's odd to think they should suddenly be entitled to do so at that end of that time.

It goes on to suggest that the additional copyright protection is necessary to prevent "potentially objectionable uses of their performance which are harmful to their name or reputation." But once you put your performance out in public isn't that part of the tradeoff?

Later in the document they do get back to territory that's become sadly familiar from government regulators. Declining label revenues are laid at the feet of P2P file sharing with no research cited to back up that claim. "As regards producers of phonograms, the principal challenges they face are the evaporation of the CD markets and the insufficient replacement revenue from online sales," reads the report, adding "The latter is due to peer-to-peer piracy."

The committee also notes in several places that there should be additional studies done to determine if there's financial need among audiovisual performers (actors) to receive additional royalties. This is fairly ironic considering a similar study commissioned at the beginning of this process concluded the current proposal would be of negligible benefit to recording artists. That study was promptly ignored.

Despite those suggestions the proposed directive would also increase the copyright term for audiovisual works, such as theatrical films and TV shows, to the same 95 years.

It's great that European officials are at least considering artists in their copyright plans. It certainly seems more honest than what we see coming from US lawmakers. But wouldn't it be simpler and more honest to help them avoid being taken advantage of in the first place?

The current approach seems to primarily benefit the labels and studios who are already the cause and chief beneficiaries of that exploitation.

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9 user comments

113.2.2009 12:50

imo the decline of cd sales is totally due to the rise in the number of music video tv stations and the rise in the number of radio stations(DAB) with their themed channels

the extension of copyright to long after the original artist has died is only for the benefit of the labels, and they will throw a percentage of their annual income to buy as many politicians as they can

213.2.2009 13:40

95 years is just freaking ridiculous no matter how you look at it. Even the current 50 years is a bit much, I would even venture to say anything longer than 10-20 years is too long.

If they are trying to blame this on P2P that is totally pointless as P2Pers don't care (well, most of them) about copyrights anyway and having a 95 year copyright isn't going to change anything.

Another thing that is totally insane, 95 years is longer than the average human lifespan. If done late enough in life this could even possibly have a copyright secured for two generations, without renewal.

Looking at simple facts like that should be reason enough to prevent this from being passed but between lobbying and rushes to get laws passed things like this piece of work get passed with little or no second looks.

Peace

313.2.2009 16:47

Originally posted by beanos66:
imo the decline of cd sales is totally due to the rise in the number of music video tv stations and the rise in the number of radio stations(DAB) with their themed channels. oh yes and the rise in home video gaming

the extension of copyright to long after the original artist has died is only for the benefit of the labels, and they will throw a percentage of their annual income to buy as many politicians as they can

413.2.2009 16:50

95 years ? Cliff Richard can breathe easily then and hoist up his kangas and continue cruisng the pensioner gay bars in his zimmer frame safe in the knowledge that his crappy christmas hits' royalities can keep him going till he reaches 150 next year - senile old fart.

513.2.2009 17:08

I'll all for infinite CP if the solely focus on for profit distribution for their ire and not try to make everyone who distributes into their butt paste to cure that bottom line itch.

613.2.2009 19:57
tripplite
Inactive

only good thing about the EU is that it might act as a Russian deterrent! argh kep'm reds back! lol but yes this 135 year thing is really insane, it doesn't help artists or the industry, it just guarantees and protect the fat cats cazh flooow!

714.2.2009 0:33

Well don't know bout you lot but it seems pretty damning of the record labels,as it appears they admit that the artists who supposedly are suffering at the hands of piracy,are in fact not getting any money regardless until a certain debt which to me seems like a loan that's never paid off (i can't think where i've heard this before,you know what it i'm think'n of),so in light of this article it appears to me that the pirates..lol.. & recording studio's are one & the same & are nothing more than parasitic organisms sucking the life blood out of every single band or human artist,just like the Goa'uld

814.2.2009 23:48

Originally posted by scorpNZ:
Well don't know bout you lot but it seems pretty damning of the record labels,as it appears they admit that the artists who supposedly are suffering at the hands of piracy,are in fact not getting any money regardless until a certain debt which to me seems like a loan that's never paid off (i can't think where i've heard this before,you know what it i'm think'n of),so in light of this article it appears to me that the pirates..lol.. & recording studio's are one & the same & are nothing more than parasitic organisms sucking the life blood out of every single band or human artist,just like the Goa'uld
don't you mean the Wraith, the Goa'uld are parasitic life forms. learn your Stargate dude.

915.2.2009 1:12

Nah i'm not referring to wraith at all,once parasite is finished with host the host dies while parasite moves to next host,so tongue in cheek it sucked the life outta ya,did i just hear a penny drop

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