U-turn for U2?

According to a tiny article in The Times Online on Monday,
"the [UK] Government has indicated that it will support a policy change that will allow pop stars to earn more money from their recordings. Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, said that the Government would revisit its opposition to extending the copyright term on sound recordings from 50 to 95 years".
There's nothing on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport website to substantiate this, though. Can any wise reader put the IPKat right as to what's going on?
U-turn for U2? U-turn for U2? Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Another blow to the commons, as huge amounts of material with no remaining economic value gets sucked back into the black hole of copyright protection.

    Still, if it keeps Cliff Richard in the manner to which he's become accustomed, then who am I to complain? </sarcasm>

  2. There is a relevant private member's bill, going to second reading on 7 March. I've blogged more details here:


    I have not confirmed the switch in the Government's position, however, and like you would be keen to learn more (especially considering the Gower's Report findings on this issue).

  3. The immediate reaction here is to rich pop-stars à la U2, Madonna etc who will perpetuate their wealth generation for their grand-children and suffocate the free market with unwarranted intellectual property rights.

    However, this bill would be a significant benefit to artists working in less commerical areas such as Jazz. This is a genre with a modest but steady turnover and to enhance the IP rights of the artists in this area would enable the estates of culturally rich but economically poor genius such as Mingus to earn a reasonable pay-back for their considerable and frequently unrecognised contribution to world culture. Consequently a knee jerk reaction against wealthy pop-stars is not helpful. What is needed is a way of targetting this legislation at those who would benefit from it more.

    Additional legislation is also needed to protect the interests of less commerical artists and prevent them from being ripped off by unscupulous record companies who invariably acquire the copyright to their work and never rescind it, even when they have lost interest and no longer produce produce copies of their work for sale.


  4. From a US correspondent I have the following information:

    Charlie McGreevy announced that he is recommending extending the copyright term in sound recordings to 95 years.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Open Rights Group (based in
    London) have mounted a petition to oppose this extension, which has already drawn 6,464 signatures. I'd urge everyone concerned with this issue to sign it.
    Whether you agree with the details or not, let them know people do care!

    The petition can be found at _http://www.soundcopyright.eu/petition_

    Anyone from any country can sign, although signatures from European citizens are obviously most important.

    More information on the EFF and ORG, as well as on the proposal, can be found on this site. Note that McGreevy has not said whether an extension would be retroactive, but you can bet the record companies will try to get that too.

  5. Burnham was interviewed in this week's issue of Music Week and was quoted as saying 'I think what I am saying is i'm not digging in behind {Gowers}. We are not digging in behind that position. I come in with an open mind about it'

  6. Jazz musicians would prefer, I submit, a better deal during than life than the knowledge that their progeny, 75 years after they die, may still be entitled to collect royalties. The fact that jazz musicians often don't making a decent livelihood from their music is not a copyright term problem. The Gowers Report, citing a US study, notes that the vast majority of income from sound recordings is generated within 5-10years of creation. Giving artists more control over works--increasing their bargaining position with record companies and producers--would be more productive.


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