The European Parliament last week backed an increase in copyright protection for musicians from 50 to 70 years, in a move aimed at ensuring longer royalties for artists and record companies. But the move caused concern among consumer and green groups, who called on member states to reject the proposal.
Voting on 23 April, EU lawmakers backed proposals that would extend protection for artists to 70 years from the date of the first publication or performance of their song.
The draft legislation, which still needs the support of the 27 EU member states before becoming law, is aimed in part at shielding the recording industry from the rise of the Internet, and the piracy that comes with it.
“The current differences in term of protection, particularly between Europe and the US, cause legal uncertainty and piracy, especially in the digital environment, where there are no boundaries,” said Brian Crowley MEP (UEN, Ireland), the author of the Parliament’s report, in his explanatory statement.
“The extended term would also benefit the record producers,” said Crowley. “It would generate additional revenue from the sale of records in shops and on the Internet.”
MEPs also proposed introducing a specific fund for session musicians and financed by producers, who would be forced to set aside at least 20% of the revenue gained from the proposed copyright extension on an annual basis. Collecting societies would be entitled to administer the annual supplementary remuneration.
No agreement yet with EU member states
The European Commission had previously proposed extending copyright protection to 95 years. But Crowley decided to bring this down to 70 years, so as to facilitate an agreement with member states in the EU Council of Ministers.
“The 70-year extension seems to have support from a majority in the Council,” a Parliament source said. However, he said there was “no agreement yet” with the Council.