Move It, Richard tells Blair

The IPKat thanks several readers of The Times for sending him this item concerning criticism of British Prime Minister Tony Blair for singling out Sir Cliff Richard’s campaign to change amend laws as a priority for UK domestic law reform. The article states, in relevant part:
"Richard, who has given Blair and his family free use of his £3m Barbados villa for the past three years, has been lobbying the government to extend the period for which he can earn royalties on his work from the current 50 years.

The Sunday Times has obtained a written record of an internal Labour meeting at which the prime minister sets out his priorities.

At the meeting of the national executive committee on July 19 last year Blair said that, despite the “dominating global headlines” and recent terror attacks, Labour must not lose sight of the domestic agenda. ... Blair “addressed concerns” about copyright laws “whereby Cliff Richard and the Rolling Stones only receive 50 years’ protection compared with 70 years in the rest of Europe”, according to one member’s detailed written record.

Richard, 65, who had his first hit in 1958 with 'Move It', began his campaign three years ago and is one of the first artists who would benefit from a change in the law. ....

The singer ... has described copyright payments as a “pension” for musicians and said: “Every three months from the beginning of 2008, I will lose a song.”

Two of those present at the Labour meeting say Blair indicated he would support an increase in the copyright term to 70 years and expressed surprise that the prime minister seemed well informed about the issue. ...

Blair and his family have enjoyed the use of Richard’s colonial-style mansion for up to three weeks at a time during their summer stays at the villa, which has six bedrooms, a tennis court and a pool. ... ".
The IPKat invites readers to post, in the Comment facility below, any errors of copyright law that they spotted in the above article. Merpel says, what's all the fuss about? Aren't politicians supposed to respond to the needs of the electorate ...?

Media Contracts Handbook

The IPKat has been investigating the Media Contracts Handbook, put together by those enterprising lawyers Deborah Fosbrook and Adrian C. Laing and published by Sweet & Maxwell earlier this year.

What the publisher says:
"The new 3rd Edition of the Media Contracts Handbook has been substantially updated and revised and brings you over 70 ready to use contracts and precedents to be used in all sections of the media, including publishing, film, TV, dvd and video, internet and electronic rights, and which can be adapted for use in any country in the world.

What's New For This Edition?

The new third edition has been substantially revised to bring you over 70 precedent contracts that you can adapt to meet your needs with the process of tailor-made agreements. The revised coverage includes over 10 new agreements including an 'Image Rights Agreement', 'Website Standard Terms' , 'Compromise Agreement' and 'International Distribution Agreement' ...".
What the IPKat says: by the time a work of this nature gets to a third edition, you can be sure that there is a sort of understanding between authors and users: the authors have a shrewd idea of what their users want, while the users affirm their happiness with the book's utility by carrying on buying it as it progresses through its various editions. You can get some good use out of the templates even if you don't want to use them, since they serve as a handy checklist for things you might otherwise forget to provide for - or issues your client may have (un)consciously avoided facing up to. This tome is the sister of another Sweet & Maxwell title, The A-Z of Contract Clauses, by the same authors (ISBN: 0421920203).

Bibliographical details: £185.00 + VAT. Hardback. ISBN: 0421912502. Accompanying CD stuck inside back cover. Rupture factor: a bit problematic this one - the book is large, heavy and does not bounce when dropped.


  1. Does the 50-year clock not start ticking after the death of the copyright-holder (the way it works with the US copyright term of life plus 70 years)?

  2. Mr Richard is, I think, being rather disingenuous about 'his' copyright. The 50 year term, of course, only applies to the mechanical copyright of the sound recordings, and not to copyright in the lyrics or music (which presumably he did not have a hand in writing). I presume that the record company who made the recordings still own the copyright in them, but that Cliff has some royalty kickback from this, which he wants to carry on getting. But maybe Cliff now owns them himself - does anyone know?

    Of course, if he had been a bit more creative, he would carry on receiving those royalty cheques long after he dies. As far as I know, performing artists didn't generally become savvy about this until the Spice Girls came along and demanded writing credits so that they would get some proportion of the music and/or lyrics copyright rather than just a wage.

    I don't know where the '70 years in the rest of Europe' comment comes from, but I thought that mechanical copyright terms were unified at 50 years throughout the EU. Am I wrong?

  3. I can't let it lie:

    The duration of copyright in recordings and in performers' rights is now dictated by Directive 93/98/EC, as enacted by The Duration of Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations 1995 SI 1995 No. 3297. In particular, Article 3 of the Directive says:

    "1. The rights of performers shall expire 50 years after the date of the performance. However, if a fixation of the performance is lawfully published or lawfully communicated to the public within this period, the rights shall expire 50 years from the date of the first such publication or the first such communication to the public, whichever is the earlier.

    2. The rights of producers of phonograms shall expire 50 years after the fixation is made. However, if the phonogram is lawfully published or lawfully communicated to the public during this period, the rights shall expire 50 years from the date of the first such publication or the first such communication to the public, whichever is the earlier".

    Therefore, the copyright in both the sound recording and in any performers' rights have the same 50 year duration throughout the EU. It is plain wrong to say that other EU states allow a longer term.

  4. Many thanks, David, for your masterly summary of the situation. I do hope Sir Cliff is reading this blog ...


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