New early day motion puts sound recording copyright term back in debate

June 2007

Record labels

Despite the Gowers review of IP which was firmly against any extension in the fifty year term for copyright in sound recordings (quite the reverse, it seems Gowers actually considered suggesting a reduction), the record industry continue to push for copyright extension for sound recordings and 70 UK Members of Parliament have put their names to a early day motion that reads “That this House notes that 50 years ago Lonnie Donegan’s Cumberland Gap was No. 1 in the charts for five weeks; is concerned that due to the present law governing payments for use of audio recordings this track will go out of copyright at the end of 2007 and that the family of Lonnie Donegan, who would have been 76 on 29th April, and the other performers, Denny Wright, John Nicholls and Mickey Ashman, and their company Pye Records, which produced this unique recording, will no longer receive any royalties, nor have any say in how this recording is used; is further concerned that thousands of musicians and their record companies will lose out over the next few years because of the shorter copyright term for sound recordings relative to that granted to almost all other creators, including the songwriters and the sleeve artists who enjoy copyright for the whole of their life plus a further 70 years; notes with concern that, according to a Musicians Union survey, 90 per cent. of musicians earn less than £15,000 a year, and thus acknowledges that the extension of copyright will come as a much needed financial boost to many low paid musicians; and asks the Government to make representations to the European Commission to look at this inequity”.

Music Law Updates editor Ben Challis has already written an article on this (se Articles, EXTENDING THE TERM : Should the UK recording industry have new obligations as well as new rights if the copyright term for sound recordings is extended?)

And see the very pithy comments on the Open Rights Group website at

And you can listen to Andrew Gowers on this podcast at

For the pro-extension lobby, the IFPI said this: The IFPI, representing the recording industry worldwide, today warmly welcomed the recommendation by the UK’s Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sports Committee that copyright term for recording artists should be extended and that Internet Service Providers and search-based businesses should do more to discourage piracy. The report, published today under the Committee Chairmanship of John Whittingdale, MP, repudiates the outcome of the review of copyright term by Andrew Gowers at the end of 2006 for focusing only on economic analysis rather than the moral rights of creators. It concludes that the Government “should press the European Commission to bring forward proposals for an extension of copyright term for sound recordings to at least 70 years, to provide reasonable certainty that an artist will be able to derive benefit from a recording through his or her lifetime.” IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said:  “The Select Committee has given a ringing endorsement for fair treatment of the UK music industry.  It has backed two simple principles – that UK performers must get a term of copyright protection comparable to composers, and that Britain must not be left with weaker copyright protection than its international partners.  The Gowers report was far too long on economic theory and far too short on fairness to British copyright holders. The UK Select Committee’s findings are totally right for Britain’s creative industries, and they send a clear strong message to the Government and to the European Union. We are also pleased that the Committee recognised that Internet Service Providers and search-based businesses should do more to discourage piracy, a position that we have been advocating for some time.”

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