For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Sir Cliff's cronies stagger on regardless

As reported elsewhere (notably on the Register and Impact), an early day motion in the UK House of Commons has been tabled (available here: number 1392), asking for the term of copyright on sound recordings to be extended. It says that

"...this House notes that 50 years ago Lonnie Donegan's Cumberland Gap was No. 1 in the charts for five weeks; is concerned that due to the present law governing payments for use of audio recordings this track will go out of copyright at the end of 2007 and that the family of Lonnie Donegan, who would have been 76 on 29th April, and the other performers, Denny Wright, John Nicholls and Mickey Ashman, and their company Pye Records, which produced this unique recording, will no longer receive any royalties, nor have any say in how this recording is used; is further concerned that thousands of musicians and their record companies will lose out over the next few years because of the shorter copyright term for sound recordings relative to that granted to almost all other creators, including the songwriters and the sleeve artists who enjoy copyright for the whole of their life plus a further 70 years; notes with concern that, according to a Musicians Union survey, 90 per cent. of musicians earn less than £15,000 a year, and thus acknowledges that the extension of copyright will come as a much needed financial boost to many low paid musicians; and asks the Government to make representations to the European Commission to look at this inequity".

The Open Rights Group website has more information on this, including the full list of names of MPs (currently 70) who have signed this motion. The ORG notes that these MPs must have been neglecting to do their homework, given that Andrew Gowers did not see any need for extending this area of copyright (see the previous IPKat posts here and here).

Although he recognises that early day motions are more about MPs expressing views openly, the IPKat wonders whether these MPs have properly considered the issues involved. He also wonders how far the lobbying abilities of grasping ageing pop stars (as well as dead ones: Mr Donegan died in 2002) and record company executives extends. However, those copies of "Cumberland Gap" distributed to MPs last month (as reported by the IPKat here) have clearly had the desired effect.

17 May Update: see a BBC report on the issue here, and the recent House of Commons committee report here (and in particular paragraph 236).

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the House of Commons published a report earlier this month, which (contrary to Gowers) suggests the term for performers' rights should be extended on the grounds is not merely an economic right, but also a "moral right" (see par 231 to 236 of the Report).

The link to the report is:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmcumeds/509/50902.htm

Anonymous said...

Strange - the label you link to indicates "New words and new music by L. Donegan". Would this not entitle him to the full 70 years after death? Is the "House" as ignorant with regard to IP as the European Parliament?

David said...

To address the above two thought-provoking comments:

i) I wonder if the committee even knew of the existence of moral rights, and whether they really mean that moral arguments are ever relevant, or if it really is all about money. If the former, perhaps they should be lobbying for an extension to the rights conferred by section 205I, rather than an extension to performers' rights as such.

ii) The fact that Lonnie Donegan's estate will apparently carry on receiving royalties due to Cumberland Gap for another 65 years or so makes the sob story a bit less convincing.

The whole lobbying arguments are, in my view, a sickening display of blatant grasping greed, akin to the farago of the Disney-funded Sonny Bono copyright extension Act in the US. The same thing should not be allowed to happen over here.

Anonymous said...

"90 per cent. of musicians earn less than £15,000 a year ... the extension of copyright will come as a much needed financial boost to many low paid musicians"

If they're not earning much money from their music now, when it's new and possibly 'cool', do they really expect to still be able to make money from their music so many years later after the copyright would have, under current law, expired??

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