Breaking news: UK Government backs sound recording term extension

In a surprise move, the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, has announced that the UK Government will now support the extension of the copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years.He told today's UK Music creators conference that he and John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, had agreed the move, which goes against the recommendations of the Gowers Review.

The IPKat isn't impressed. He doubts whether such sudden changes in approach can be the result of sound investigation and research into their likely effects.

Report by Music Week here. The IPKat thanks Lisa Chiarelli for bringing this story to his attention.
Breaking news: UK Government backs sound recording term extension Breaking news: UK Government backs sound recording term extension Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, December 11, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. This is what the Government said in July 2007 (as reported by the IPKat here):

    "The Government appreciates the work of the Committee and the deliberation it has given to this subject. As the Committee noted, the independent Gowers Review also considered this issue in detail and recommended that the European Commission retain a term of protection for sound recordings and performers of 50 years. The Review undertook a detailed analysis of all the arguments put forward, including the moral arguments regarding the treatment of performers. It concluded that an extension would not benefit the majority of performers, most of whom have contractual relationships requiring their royalties be paid back to the record label. It also concluded that an extension would have a negative impact on the balance of trade and that it would not increase incentives to create new works. Furthermore, it considered not just the impact on the music industry but on the economy as a whole, and concluded that an extension would lead to increased costs to industry, such as those who use music – whether to provide ambience in a shop or restaurant or for TV or radio broadcasting – and to consumers who would have to pay royalties for longer. In reaching such conclusions, the Review took account of the question of parity with other countries such as the US, and concluded that, although royalties were payable for longer there, the total amount was likely to be similar – or possibly less – as there were fewer revenue streams available under the US system.

    An independent report, commissioned by the European Commission as part of its ongoing work in reviewing the copyright acquis, also considered the issue of term. It reached the same overall conclusion on this matter as the Gowers Review.

    Taking account of the findings of these reports, which carefully considered the impact on the economy as a whole, and without further substantive evidence to the contrary, it does not seem appropriate for the Government to press the Commission for action at this stage."

    I wonder what made them change their mind?

  2. Lobbyists are very influential - on both sides of the pond, aren't they?

  3. DCMS have always supported longer protection, it was DIUS who were against it. One might suspect that this issue has been conceded as a bargining chip in relation to some other area of policy, rather than any real change of heart.

  4. I'm not thrilled by this move at all.

    Over the last ten years or so several record companies, notably Naxos, have done a fantastic job of hunting down important recordings from the 30s, 40s and 50s and doing excellent restoration work to bring them back to life. Some of these recordings are of very great musical and documentary interest and it will be very sad if the project hits a brick wall as a result of term extension and the difficulty of clearing the restorations for release.

    Also, what would happen to the works which have fallen out of copyright and will now go back in (i.e. anything recorded during the 40s and 50s)? Do record companies have to discontinue their historical reissues? Are we going to see epic litigation a la Joyce's Ulysses (fell out of copyright and then went back in)?



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