UK-IPO response to performers' term extension

The UK IPO appears to have given a rather chilly reception to the European Commission’s proposal to extend performers’ rights to 95 years. A press release quotes the Minister for IP, Baroness Delyth Morgan, as saying:

Because copyright represents a monopoly we need to be very clear that the circumstances justify an extension. We will therefore need to consider these proposals carefully to understand how they would work and what the benefits are likely to be…

She continues by encouraging members of public to contact the IPO with comments on the proposal by the end of August (contact details are in the press release).

The press release goes on to note that the Gowers Review found that an extension of copyright would not be beneficial to either consumers or the industry.

The IPKat agrees. 50 years of protection is hardly derisory. When we alter IP rights, we alter the competitive balance. The balancing exercise is a complex one and knee jerk or populist proposals don’t give the opportunity for this balance to be made adequately. However, the Commission seem to be rather taken with the idea of extending the term.

While the IPKat is on the subject of EU copyright, he neglected to mention last week that the Commission has adopted a decision which prohibits European collecting societies from limiting membership to authors in their particular Member State. Thanks to Maria Mercedes Frabboni for giving him a prod on this. See the IPKat’s comment on the draft of this decision here.

UK-IPO response to performers' term extension UK-IPO response to performers' term extension Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Does anyone know if the Commission's decision to prohibit European collecting societies from limiting membership to authors in their particular Member State is being challenged by the societies themselves?

  2. I haven't read the latest debates on why the term should be extended but I do remember an interesting historical analogy.

    When the minimum term for 'primary' works was agreed in the 1890s it was 50 years from death of the author, to cover the next two generations (life expectancy being that much lower at the time). So for example if our author died in 1960, protection would continue until 2010.

    However, because of the further-reduced life expectancy during the world wars, Germany extended the term to 70 years to ensure an equivalent level of protection (using the example above our author may instead have died earlier in 1940, so to get the same protection for his successors, the term up to 2010 = 70 years).

    An EU directive later harmonized the term to 70 years from death to avoid conflicts due to works having different expiry dates in different states.

    Why not harmonise to 50 years though, after the wars? Probably because it was easier to give rights than to take away, although the official reason was that lifespans had increased. However, this seems to be opposite to the German rationale above.

  3. I couldn't get the reason b behind the Commission's decision to prohibit EU societies from limiting membership to authors in their particular state.
    Can it be challenged anywhere?


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