November 26, 2008 | Becky Hogge

From bad to worse: MEPs to rush through disembowelled term extension directive.

image courtesy of harrymetcalfe@FlickrThe flawed proposal to extend the term of copyright protection afforded to sound recordings, robbing consumers in the name of performers but for the benefit of the world’s four major record labels, is being fast-tracked through the democratic process. Earlier this month MEPs from the relevant European Parliament committees presented their draft reports at a meeting of the legal affairs committee (JURI), the Committee which will make recommendations to the European Parliament on how to vote on the Directive early next year. They proposed a host of worrying new amendments which threaten to:

  • Weaken further already inadequate measures intended to allow orphan works, and commercially worthless but culturally significant recordings to pass into the public domain (Culture (CULT), Internal Market (IMCO) and the Industry, Technology and Research (ITRE) committees draft reports).
  • Allow record labels to deduct “costs” from a fund intended to benefit session musicians, further shrinking the pot of money made available to performers in favour of labels (IMCO committee draft report).
  • Dramatically widen the scope of the Directive to include audio-visual recording, even though no relevant impact assessment has been conducted into what effect this might have on consumers and follow-on innovators. (JURI and ITRE committee draft reports).
At the JURI meeting, Dr Lionel Bently of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law (CIPIL) Cambridge, dismissed the proposal stating that “record producers will gain the lion’s share of revenues on sales in the extended term”. He warned that the Directive would accrue serious social and economic costs, and concluded that MEPs should “oppose this measure in its totality.”

Bently is not the only expert to oppose the Directive. In an open letter to MEPs, Europe’s leading intellectual property research centres unanimously condemned the proposal. The European Broadcast Union has also stated publicly that the proposal will make consumers foot the bill while stifling innovation.

Earlier this month ORG met with MEPs in the European Parliament to express our serious concerns about the proposal. We warned that the European Commission’s own figures demonstrate that performers will benefit little from the extended term, while the world’s four major record labels will gain millions of Euros direct from consumer’s pockets. We argued that this damaged the respect necessary for a functioning IP system.

But our voice is not as powerful as yours. It’s vital that you contact your MEPs now and tell them why term extension is bad news.

With all the evidence pointing against this measure, you can call on your MEPs to put a stop to bad IP law and reject this proposal. You can also also tell the appropriate government department in your own EU country (in the UK it is DCMS), as they will be meeting in the Council of Ministers to discuss term extension.

With the European elections next year, Parliament is set to move quickly on this issue. It’s up to you to remind your representatives that their job is to look out for your interests, not to rush through bad law.

Image courtesy of Steve Cadman.

Comments (13)

  1. Barry Coward:
    Feb 27, 2009 at 03:00 PM

    When copyright terms were extended for composers from 50 to 70 years after death it was retrospective so I expect this to be the same.

    A colleague received an interesting reply from Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne MEP who did attend the January 27th event. She wrote:

    "The placing of retroactive rights on millions of hours of broadcasting footage will further complicate accessibility to media that is now included in the public domain."

    This is bad news for a wide range of users of material, not just sound recordings from record companies.

    By teh way I run a small record company and we oppose this copyright extension.

  2. The Open Rights Group : Blog Archive » A crucial year for ORG - let’s make sure our voice gets heard:
    Jan 08, 2009 at 01:25 PM

    [...] to only have ears for the recording industry, has taken a rather different tack with their current Term Extension Directive, proposing to nearly double the term of protection for sound [...]

  3. La società della sorveglianza… dal basso | Searching For The Question - David Orban's Blog:
    Feb 17, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    [...] con 10 anni chi fotografa un poliziotto. A livello di Unione Europea si sta discutendo su come—contrariamente alle raccomandazioni degli esperti che l’Unione stessa ha interpellato—con il termine-ombrello di protezione della proprietà [...]

  4. Bruno Theol:
    Feb 27, 2009 at 02:40 PM

    On the copyright extension, I have never seen anywhere if it is going to be retroactive or not.

    Will the 1958 date be frozen until we reach the year 2053 ? Which means everything up to 1958 stays in the public domain;
    Or will the law be retroactive and Public Domain would be everything recorded before the year 1914.

    This is the only important point, as the patrimoine at danger is the one from 1914 to 1958. Recordings from the 60's will be more easily available anyway.

    Looking for an answer to this question

    Bruno Theol

  5. Luxcommons » Blog Archive » Response to consultation by Communia:
    Dec 10, 2008 at 06:47 PM

    [...] Protection term extensions must be postponed (link)[7]. Term extensions create decades-long public domain “gaps” which not only dilute the [...]

  6. Copyright Law » Blog Archive » Keeping the Small Man down, International Copyright & Developing Nations:
    Dec 02, 2008 at 05:40 PM

    [...] (discussing  a European Union plan to extending copyright terms and how this is an extremely bad [...]

  7. John Boult:
    Dec 01, 2008 at 12:01 PM

    Have you check the latest propaganda from the record labels, via a PPL video message of performers on youtube?

    This video does actually damages their case and could be used against them. Through the editing they appear to be aggressive and also they have not/ will not saved for their retirement.

    The killer statement is at 3min 24sec when one of the performers states that he did not realise until recently that the copyright on his recordings will run out in less than 20 years.

    They seem to be losing the support of the musicians, if this is the best can provide.

    You can rate the video and the leave comments on youtube (although I think the PPL may be moderating it). There is currently a dissenting comment from a PPL Member, although they may try to delete it.

  8. Taliesin Nuin:
    Nov 28, 2008 at 03:44 PM

    I'm fine with PDFs (better than DOCs) and I prefer them to the minefield of HTML which is the only other "universal" format out there that I can think of.

    But back to the issue: It would be helpful to have details such as when the vote takes place, etc. I know that these details may not be available. But I'm a lot more confident in writing a letter if I can begin it with 'regarding directive X, being voted on by yourself on dd-mm-yyyy'). I might be being dense in not finding this information here (probably am), but if it's not apparent to me, it may not be apparent to others. A few more specifics would be useful as navigating through EU committees and terminology is a nightmare for outsiders. Also dates would help know how much time we have. The article says "contact them now." Does that mean the vote is taking place today? Monday? Again, I'm aware that pinning down EU beauracracy to specific details can be like nailing custard to a wall.

  9. Europarlement laat zich leiden door platenmaatschappijen - Sargasso:
    Nov 27, 2008 at 04:00 PM

    [...] Europarlement laat zich leiden door platenmaatschappijen27-11-2008 om 15:58 door Steeph Europarlement laat zich leiden door platenmaatschappijen en maakt van een slechte copyright wet een ... copyrights, Europa, Europees Parlement, Waan v/d Dag Terug naar het [...]

  10. Dorian Moore:
    Nov 28, 2008 at 12:17 PM

    Not wanting to be too 'me too' but I agree with Chris Tregenza...

    So, how about looking here (from the UK) to find your MEP:

  11. Chris Tregenza:
    Nov 27, 2008 at 10:42 AM

    Thanks for the great work as always but can I make a suggestions to make it even better.

    Please do not use zip files, PDFs or DOCs

    Finding the time to write to my MP/MEP etc is hard so I want to be able to do it quickly. The slowest part is reading the supporting material so that I understand what the issue is. Putting documents and reports in ZIPs, PDFs and DOCs is a small but significant barrier to this process.

    Getting as much information as possible into web pages would be a great help.

    Many thanks for all your work defending our rights.

  12. Becky Hogge:
    Nov 28, 2008 at 04:05 PM

    The JURI committee vote (where the committee that decides what to put before Parliament) is likely to take place in late December or early January. The plenary vote, which is the vote of the entire Parliament, is likely to be in February BUT these dates are *highly provisional*.

    It's helpful to get in touch with your MEPs on this issue at this early stage in order to establish a dialogue, as it normally takes more than one letter or phonecall to change someone's mind (see our guide to lobbying MEPs).

    I hope this information is helpful. As for the .pdf question, thanks for your comments - we'll try and take them on board. We don't put up .zips as a rule and anyone who can find a .doc on the ORG website wins a special prize. Using .pdfs help us get printed material out quicker but if there's a consensus that putting these sorts of resources up online will get more people contacting their elected representatives, we'll certainly do it in future.

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