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October 26, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Release The Music, 13 Nov 06

Should the term of copyright protection on sound recordings stay at 50 years or be extended?

This question has been hanging in the air for the last couple of years, with the music industry lobbying government for an extension on the grounds that the royalties they earn from old recordings are essential to bringing new acts to the stage and supporting ageing musicians. They believe that copyright term on sound recordings should be the same length as the copyright in the composition, which currently stands at life plus 70 years.

On the other hand, copyright reformers argue that term should remain the same in order to protect the public domain and to free the huge number of old recordings which are no longer commercially viable and therefore not being released by the record labels. They also argue that there is a greater economic benefit to allowing works to pass into the public domain after 50 years so that new works can be made from them and new businesses that specialise in niche markets can flourish.

This question of term extension, along with many others, is now being considered by Andrew Gowers in his Review of Intellectual Property which was commissioned by the Treasury and is due to report before the end of the year.

The Open Rights Group believes that term extension is such an important issue that it deserves focused and rigourous discussion, so we've invited people from number of backgrounds to give us their thoughts and opinions.

We would be delighted if you could join us - the event is free to all, but places are limited so book now!

Release The MusicSchedule: 6.00pm - Registration. 6.30pm - Keynote by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. 7.30pm - Panel Discussion, moderated by John Howkins, The Adelphi Charter; guests include Caroline Wilson, University of Southampton, Faculty of Law; others TBC. 8.30pm - DJ set by The Chaps, playing a pre-1955 public domain set. 10.00pm - Close.

Date: Monday 13 November 2006

Location:

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square London, WC1 United Kingdom

Nearest tube: Holborn

If you sign up, but find you are not able to come, please do let us know so we can release your seat to someone else.

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Comments (8)

  1. Danny O’Brien’s Oblomovka » Blog Archive » celebrating org’s second birthday:
    Jul 20, 2008 at 08:39 AM

    [...] celebrity-studded publicity campaign that sought to extend copyright terms. It fought the hype with with clear facts and economics, and won - the first time that has happened [...]

  2. Creative Commons Nederland:
    Oct 31, 2006 at 11:28 AM

    [...] Zoals te verwachten lobbyen kunstenaars en platenmaatschapijen inmiddels intensief voor een verlenging van de beschermingsduur van de naburig rechten. deze discussie speelt op dit moment met name in het Verenigt Koninkrijk. de Britse actiegroep ‘The Open Rights Group‘ organiseerd daarom op 13 November in london een evenement met de tittle ‘Should the term of copyright protection on sound recordings stay at 50 years or be extended?‘: This question has been hanging in the air for the last couple of years, with the music industry lobbying government for an extension on the grounds that the royalties they earn from old recordings are essential to bringing new acts to the stage and supporting ageing musicians. They believe that copyright term on sound recordings should be the same length as the copyright in the composition, which currently stands at life plus 70 years. [...]

  3. Information Politics | Blog | Release the Music Event - Nov 13:
    Nov 02, 2006 at 06:23 PM

    [...] The issue of whether the U.K. should extend the current 50-year copyright duration for sound recordings will be discussed by Oxford Professor Jonathan Zittrain and others on November 13th in London. Details here. [...]

  4. Stephen Sutton:
    Nov 03, 2006 at 05:32 AM

    As a music industry professional (owner of an independent label) but also one who is committed to the preservation of our musical heritage, I am completely opposed to any extension in the copyright period for sound recordings. The only benefit would be to the large multinational labels who are doing nothing for musical culture in the wide sense, in rspect of continuing re-releases of the most popular recordings.

    The vast majority of recordings of classical, light, ehtnic, nostalgia, ballad, folk, and all "old-fashioned foms of popular music, having lost public domain status, would quite simply disappear completly. The sort of repertoire which we wish to use (our vintage recordings archive is just getting under way)is not financially viable to issue on CD or even digitally, given the hours of retoration work required. In effect, 90% or more of all recordings of over 50 years old would overnight be locked away out of sight and hearing, pretty well for ever.If companies like ours, and such labels as Nimbus, Pristine Audio, etc, are not able to continue, the arts in general, and the public, will be the losers, in order to line the pockets of a few already wealthy individuals, and I regard any extension as firmly against the public interest. I take that view both as a label owner and as a lawyer of 30 years experience.

    Two possible ways around the issue may be ;

    1. Create a blanket registration scheme for all recordings over 50 years old on the same basis as teh curent MCPS/PPL CatCo system with a small flat rate royalty.

    2. Create a "notice of intended release" system (more difficult to operate) whereby any peson wishing to release "copyright" recordings of more than 50 years old gives notice to a central office. The copyright owner has one month to object (and must justify the objection by proving that it itself will release the same material within the next 12 months)with penalties for copyright owners who wrongly object.

    I add two finakl comments:

    1. A recent study by the Smithsonian concluded that the extended copyright periods in the uSA have produced exactly the result I foresee, with only a tiny proportion of vintage recordings now available to the public

    2. In relation to the rarer material we intend to deal in, the copyight owner will in many cases be (a) no longer in existence (b) untraceable (c) unable to verify ownership. Many companies destroyed their old recording ledgers.

    S. Sutton

  5. Simon Gibbs:
    Nov 05, 2006 at 01:30 PM

    I'm somewhat persuaded by other calls to *reduce* the term, certainly the automatic term.

    Do we know if term reductions are under consideration?

  6. Suw:
    Nov 06, 2006 at 10:56 AM

    Simon, yes, I would rather see a reduction too, but right now I think the more winnable fight is to keep term the same. As far as I know, reduction is not on the cards, but I could be surprised by Gower's recommendations as I've not seen the report.

  7. Money Matter ! » this is so depressing:
    Nov 14, 2006 at 02:15 PM

    [...] (Meanwhile, don’t miss Jonathan Zittrain’s presentation at the Open Rights Group “Release the Music” event on November 13. Details here and here.) [...]

  8. On Performer’s Rights, Kathleen Ferrier, Bruno Walter and Mahler’s Rückert Lieder | Technology Law Culture (Netherlands!) - Olivier Oosterbaan:
    Dec 04, 2006 at 12:18 AM

    [...] The duration of 50 years for neighboring rights is not uncontroversial, and some debate is taking place, most vocally in the United Kingdom, on whether the term should be extended to 70 years. See from the interest group Open Rights more on that here. [...]



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