U.K. Government Rejects Long-Tail Music Copyright Extension

The U.K. government will not press the European Union for an extension of copyright on sound recordings and performances, from the current 50 years to 70 years…The House of Commons media and culture select committee recommended lobbying the EU to extend the term so that aging rockers like Cliff Richard and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, some of whose works will pass in to the public domain next year, can go on earning royalties. (Via The Guardian). But, hardly surprisingly, ministers refused, pointing instead to the wide-ranging intellectual property review former FT editor Andrew Gowers published at the behest of then-chancellor Gordon Brown in December, which, among other recommendations, advised against the move.

“In a digital world where songs can be archived forever, the issue of copyright is crucial to the future revenues of record labels. They argue that in other creative fields the copyright term is more generous and that other countries, including the US, benefit from longer term. A failure to extend copyright could threaten the UK’s strong position in creating music, said John Kennedy, head of international music companies association IFPI.”

An extension of copyright, which is 95 years in the U.S., was campaigned against by digital liberties advocates, who argued half a century is plenty enough time to commercialize works. A refusal to extend the term effectively limits European performers’ capacity to profit from the “long tail” retail distribution digital archive channels now make possible for older material. The government did, however, say it would begin a consultation this fall on amending copyright legislation to allow music consumers, for the first time, to legally transfer their purchases to MP3 players. Although labels do not prosecute those who copy to their iPod, so-called “format-shifting was another Gowers recommendation designed to protect consumers from any future action. (Via Out-Law).