Good news for Sir Cliff and eBay

Commission adopts extended performers rights

The European Commission has today adopted a proposal for 'extending the term of protection for recorded performances and the record itself from 50 to 95 years'. [Press release here]. This is said to benefit both performers and record companies. This is designed to 'bridge the income gap' when the sound recordings of performances made in an artist's twenties expires when they reach their seventies.

At the same time, the Commission appears to be tinkering with more general copyright protection for musical works. According to the press release:

In addition, when it concerns a musical composition, which contains the contributions of several authors, the Commission proposes a uniform way of calculating the term of protection. Music is overwhelmingly co-written. For example, in an opera, there are often different authors to the music and to the lyrics. Moreover, in musical genres such as jazz, rock and pop music, the creative process is often collaborative in nature. According to the proposed rule the term of protection of a musical composition shall expire 70 years after the death of the last surviving author, be it the author of the lyrics or the composer of the music.
The IPKat isn't entirely sure if he has read this correctly, but it looks like the Commission is proposing to lump together musical and literary authorial works set to music and grant a single term. If this is correct, this goes against our traditional notions of how such works are viewed, and the same logic (of treating both works as one) could conceivably apply elsewhere, such as in judging infringement.

The Commission is also launching a Green Paper on on the long-term future of copyright policy in the knowledge intensive areas. This will cover scientific publishing, the digital preservation of Europe's cultural heritage, orphan works, consumer access to protected works and the special needs for the disabled to participate in the information society.

The IPKat notes that this is another example of IP rights being expanded to the max. For one thing, record companies appear to be getting some sort of slice of the pie. The 95 year term is generous (though the Kat notes that this would be an increasingly common lifespan). He remains unconvinced that recording artists have a right to be remunerated for life. The seeming changes to authorial copyright also go for the maximum by extending protection of the whole work to the last to die of the group (previously different elements of the work could potentially come out of copyright at different times.

eBay wins in US

Things are looking up for eBay. A US District Court held on Monday that the internet auctioneer had not infringedTiffany's trade marks in failing to prevent fake Tiffany goods to be sold through its site. According to the New York Times, the court found that it was the responsibility of trade mark owners, and not online retailers, to police the online sites for infringers. The US decision runs counter to the emerging trend it Europe, where eBay has been found to have infringed in both France and Germany.

The IPKat can't help but compare this to Napster. The difference is though that eBay's business model isn't built on third party infringement. Quite the opposite - it creates bad will if consumers unwittingly purchase 'fake' goods. The whole thing's a bit of a mess though. Will this mean that US eBay will need to be blocked off to European consumers?
Good news for Sir Cliff and eBay Good news for Sir Cliff and eBay Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. It's been a busy copyright day for the Commission - it's also been announced that, for competition law reasons, 24 collecting societies must change the way they grant (or more precisely: not grant) Pan-European licenses for cable, satellite and internet uses.



  2. It is true that the whole situation is quite messy. On the plus side, this ruling has the benefit of not shifting the burden of policing trademarks etc on platforms but rather more fittingly on the trademark owners. But this still does not address the bigger problem of how do you in the first place prevent fakes from being sold online.

  3. While we are on the subject of the EU and copyright protection, you may be interested to read the decision in Murphy v. Media Protection Services:


    "We ... voice our unease about the bringing of a prosecution under s. 297(1) in circumstances where the establishment of an essential element in the offence, namely "intent to avoid payment of any charge applicable to the reception of the programme", depends upon the compatibility with EC law of an export ban imposed in a licence agreement between two companies who are legally strangers to the purchaser and user of the decoder card in question who is the defendant to the criminal charge."



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