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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Problem with Extending Copyright on Music

Written by Ben Jones

Several studies have shown that an extension of copyright on sound recordings is a bad idea. It will lead to less competition and higher prices while only the record labels benefit from it. Next Tuesday, the Open Rights Group will be hosting a round-table event to discuss performance copyright extension in the EU.

Last summer, we covered how Commissioner McCreevy intends to increase the length of copyright on performances, from their current 50 year length to 95 years. This was to ‘help’ those artists who just didn’t get paid enough over those 50 years, and are in danger of being penniless. The Open Rights Group (ORG) believes that that is unacceptable. It has co-produced a video explaining why this is a bad idea on the Commissions behalf, and has set up a meeting in Brussels with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to discuss this.

The Directive, due to be voted on some time in the near future, will mainly be to the benefit of large record label, and not small artists and session players, as proponents claim. In a speech last month, though, Commissioner McCreevy countered that argument, saying “To that criticism can I say that the average annual pay-out might not appear significant to academic critics, but €2,000 (£1,760) extra per year is significant to an average session player.”

The reality though, is very different. Even EU backed studies have found significant downsides to any extension, with the only study supporting an extension coming from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) – the British music lobby group. Even Andrew Gowers, author of the independent Gowers Report into ‘intellectual property’ has recommended against an extension.

Thus the Open Rights Group has decided to try and educate MEPs. It will be holding a meeting with them, to try and bring attention to the problems and negative aspects of the directive. It has also created the following video to explain to those that can’t be there.

The meeting is free to attend, and will include people with experience in the industry. If you’re interested in attending, details are available here

Original here

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