back to article EU commissioner backs record biz on copyright extensions

European internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy has thrown his weight behind the long-running record industry campaign to extend copyright protection for sound recordings. Under proposals the Irish politician announced yesterday, performance rights holders such as Cliff Richard would receive royalties for 95 years …


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  1. JimC

    Copyright term...

    It seems pefectly reasonable that the terms should be identical. Lifetime plus 70 years is clearly too much for anything though. 50 years or lifetime, whichever is longer would seem reasonable. That way the creator gets their old age pension and partner/corporation gets a good lifespan, but you don't have forever extensions as Disney fabours...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many artists from 1913 can you name?

    Cliff can always record it again 50 years later, promote the new version, and get another 50 years exclusive. If McCreevy's theory is correct and the artist is the important person in the creative process of making a record, then their new recording will sell and they'll have created jobs and business in the record industry by making the rerecording.

    So even if we ignore the fact that old recordings don't sell, are not worth promoting, and Cliff Richard will not live till he's 120, even then it's not a good thing to let him sell the same stuff forever because it displaces new works.

    Gotta move on. Can't keep doing re-releases and best of's forever. Even if they need a little coaxing to go and re-record the tracks. Cliff should get off his lazy butt, refresh the tracks and rerelease a refreshed CD to start a fresh 50 years.

    "while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song, we can usually name the performer."

    Funny, I don't remember any of the performers from 1913 (2008-95 years), I bet you can't even locate their recording contracts or trace legal ownership anyway. Since it spans more than 1 persons lifetime, it's not possible to take legal testimony from people over contracts because those people are dead.

    And I'm pretty sure in 50 years time I won't remember the artists names of today either, I'll be dead too you see.

    You gotta be realistic about these things. 50 years is plenty, if it was worth anything then Cliff would be rerecording and promoting and performing, not mulching away. You don't want to give them a reason to resell the same recordings over and over again 50 years from now, and don't want to create a lawyers market where lawyers try to argue over ownership of historical recordings from long dead artists.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    would like to check his bank statements for payments recieved!

  4. Anonymous Coward

    So the taxpayer is to keep Cliff in desert islands?

    I caught part of News 24 last night where they were interviewing some douche bag from U2. Apparently this isn't about artists needing a fleet of Lear jets or hot and cold running hookers. It's actually a tragic story; many multimillionaires were so busy shovelling Colombian marching powder up their sinuses for the last half century that they never got round to organising a pension. If we don't say 'please keep gouging us' various superannuated has-beens will have to quit crashing hotel suites into swimming pools and start living in the real world. They're simply not ready for things, it'd be like letting your gran loose on a PS3.

    On grounds of balance, I have to ask, is a 50 year extension on copyright such a terrible price to pay to keep Cliff out of the recording studio?

    If you need me, I'll be billing the government for some work I did 20 years ago and only got paid for once. Hopefully U2 will back my claim.

  5. Steve Anderson


    Oh look, the BPI is crying.

    Boo hoo!

    Boo hoo!

    I don't know of any industry that throws tantrums in the presence of the government in an attempt to get its own way quite like the BPI. I think it might stand for the Big Pansy Institute. Oh no, I've insulted the BPI! Boo hoo! Boo hoo! Get my ISP to kick me off for being a big meanie!

    And so on.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Just watch the EU at work

    Here we will be able to see at first hand how the UK is merely a province of the European Empire (see Barroso's tv clip about the world's first "non-imperial" empire!).

    The UK will cave in because the political elite can't wait to get their snouts in the EU trough.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @No pension?

    "that they never got round to organising a pension."

    Well if pension is the problem, then perhaps copyright should revert to the state at retirement age. You retire, you're entitled to a pension, in exchange the state gets your copyrights. Of course you get to keep the money you made during your working life from the recording.

    That would both prevent artists from milking old records at the expense of new, and remove the pension risks.

  8. Eduard Coli

    Graft export

    It is so disappointing to see that the same graft that empowers absurd copyright law in the states circulates around the EU.

  9. Norman


    As others have said, why don't I get royalties when others make use of my efforts.

    Does a furniture manufacturer get a 'cut' every time you use a chair?

    When you use anything more than once, we are missing out. Houses, cars, pens etc.

    Where does it stop - more importantly, when/why did it start?

  10. sabroni Silver badge

    But if I made it.... should be mine, shouldn't it? How many other possessions "time out"? It seems bizarre to me that you can record a piece of music and then lose the rights to it, however old it or you may be.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ten years at most...

    As it is copyright is used most often to stifle creativity.

    It is supposed to encourage it.

    Why should -anyone- be continually paid for a piece of work for 50 years, let alone 95?

    All copyright globally should be set at ten years from first release to market or public display, this still encourages creativity and innovation, and protects profits.

    And it allows those works to pass into public domain, and to help fuel further creativity in a reasonable time.

    Copyright was envisaged, and originally sold to us, to all of us globally, as a method to promote and encourage creativity. Not to line the pockets of the pigopolists and their shareholders.

    I say thee nay.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    ? what are they talking about... its like asking a hungry bear shaped drug dealer to look after your young children. How stupid politicians are to think that business pays any attention to their requests like that... i think the answer was 'sure as long as it doesn't get in the way of taking all their money'

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reduce the term

    So if someone invents a cure for cancer they get exclusive rights for what, 15/25 years? Yet if some "artist" writes a limerick about the invention they get to exploit it for their lifetime plus 70 years! What is it about artists that should entitle them to a lifetimes income for a single moment of inspiration? The copyright term should be reduced not extended.

  14. Michael Compton

    They got it the wrong way round

    The composer rights length should have been reduced, 70 years let alone the lifetime part is too long.

    And the pension argument is so messed up its hardly worth a retort. Invest like the rest have to you morons.

    Positive role models? Elvis fed himself to death, Hendrix drowned in his on vomit, Ozzy can't speak anymore, Britney has gone mental, if she wasn't before, and Bono and co are self righteous eejits. The list is pretty long thats just some of the highlights, Oh and Cliff is just plain weird.

  15. Red Bren
    Paris Hilton

    If the deadline keeps getting extended...

    Is there any chance that any of the famous, out-of-copyright stories used in the earliest Disney adaptations would still have been in copyright under the new limits? If so, can the writers' estates sue for billion$$$?

    Paris, coz her movies are all her own work

  16. Colin

    Slimeball politicians scared to say no to the old ways.

    Frankly I'm not suprised at McCreevy the guy is right wing, conservative, therefore concerned with keeping big business happy. He is out of his mind if he believes the artists with get anything more than a slight increase in the miserable pittance the recording industry pays to artists in royalties. This is why old farts like McCreevy shouldn't be allowed in politics they know nothing of any relevance to the world as it for the rest of us.

    Mandatory retirement age for politicians should 45 at the very oldest. Don't think so? Go work in a gentlemans club or women's institute with the over 50's sometime. Listen to what they say, too many of these people live in the freakin past. For them the 50's and 60's are a golden age blessed by all that was nice in the world. (yeah ok, I'll admit there are a few who don't)

    The past is the wrong place to be if you want to be a leader. Leaders who live in the past lead from the rear and rely on others to tell them what's happening. (this is where it goes wrong) These leaders fear change. Too many old polticians won't ever change and they cling to the hope that somehow we'll get to tomorrow via the golden age of yesterday.

    Our leaders should be young vibrant Men and Women prepared to grab the country by the throat and drag it with them to wherever the future leads. This way

    leads to fresh ideas and stops us being forced into stagnation by those who cling to the past.

    Rant over!

  17. Ishkandar

    Re. - How many artists from 1913 can you name?

    Scott Joplin ?? Edith Piaff ??

    Mine's the silk-lined cape, please !! And hurry, my horse-drawn hearse is waiting outside.

  18. Alex Tingle
    Thumb Down

    Retrospective legislation.

    Changing the rules after the fact is always a bad idea. Cliff Richard's part in this ended 50 years ago - nothing we do now will encourage him to work harder 50 years ago. Extending copyright now is just asking Cliff Richard's present and future fans to pay him *again* for work he's already done.

    Nobody's arguing that artists recording *now* need this extra payment... a clear indication that the current copyright term is quite sufficient.

  19. Curtis W. Rendon

    never again

    Will *anything* other than perhaps s/w enter the public domain.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder

    What would the BPI say if the EU decided that copyright terms can be extended, but only if the copyrights and all the money went to the original artists or performers rather than their record labels and other hangers on? Without the artist at one end and the consumer providing the cash at the other there wouldn't be a BPI in the first place.

  21. Oldfogey

    Reneging on a deal

    Copyright, Patent, Design Right, et al are all agreements by society to give creators a period of exclusive rights over their work so that they may earn sufficient income to reward them for that work, and encourage others to take a similar path, to the general benefit of society.

    When Cliff recorded "Move it", which comes out of copyright this year, society offered, and he accepted, that he would own the rights to that performance for 50 years.

    Now he wants to renegotiate the deal.

    If my computer has an expected life of 5 years, but at the end of that it looks like continuing to be useful for another 5, can the manufacturer come back and demand an extra payment because he didn't get as much as he now thinks he should have.

    If this goes through, I shall seek out an illegal - sorry, unlawful - copy of Move It, just to assert my rights.

  22. Martin Owens

    Public Value

    The problem is that the Copyright terms need to be balanced such that when the public and cultural interest is harmed by long copyright terms those works should be made available to the public domain sooner; If an artists publishes and lets face it is quite crap then he gets to keep his art work for 70 years good riddance.

    So I suggest creating a "Culturally Significance Act" whos job would be to define how the Copyright rights to works change as they become culturally significant. For instance, the teletubies are so massively ingrained into our culture that the use of their image, clips of their show and so on should be public domain. The act should balance out on how widely distributed, how many sales of units, how many downloads etc and even how often it's cited in the news. An equation might be nice for working it out well.

    I see no harm in having culturally significant works in the public domain. This would how ever put almost all Disneys films into public domain; which would see quite the smirk on my face I must admit.

    10 years minimum, 70 years maximum, non linear scale.

  23. Mark

    Re: But if I made it....

    Well, the carpenter made your chair.

    Cliff sold his music.

    End of story.

  24. Svein Skogen

    Solution is simple

    Sure. 95 years, or end of life (non-pulse) for Humans (that is: Not companies) owning a copyright. Whichever comes first.

    Companies: Max of 10 years.

    This avoids the entire "boo-hoo-pension-plan" problem, and at the same time it doesn't give companies that milk-cow to stifle innovation. Put another way: It gives those media-corporations plenty of incentive for keeping on getting things created, and not simply let the CD/DVD presses run on automatic re-releasing old stuff.

    And make sure that all works go PUBLIC DOMAIN after their copyright runs out of time. And that media companies refusing to open up their DRM shite after the copyright runs out of time, are liable to be fined _7_ times the gross sale of the work, afterall this is what they want people they accuse of infringement pay, they should have the same liability. Make sure all their stock owners are aware that if the company doesn't play by the rules, they won't be getting any money that year. Should pretty much solve the problem.


  25. david carroll


    Copyright in pre-war & post-war Blues recordings did not prevent bands like Led Zeppelin & The Stones from deriving major inspiration from these sources. Likewise, Elvis Presley who helped inspire generations of musicians found his inspiration in the copyrighted recordings of many great Hillybilly, Blues and Gospel artists. The Beatles inspiration came from artists like Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Lonnie Donegan and many of the early soul artists such as Arthur Alexander,The Isley Brothers, Shirelles etc., all of these were readily available because they were protected by copyright!

    All of today’s successful recording artists take their inspiration from the recordings of those that have gone before and 99% of these recordings are still in copyright.

    So those that argue that copyright protection serves only to stifle creativity are wrong, copyright protection in a recording prevents plagiarism and who gives a shit about plagiarists!

  26. Mark

    @David Carroll

    But how many places can you get hold of old blues or gospel recordings now?

    When Elvis's early work passed into public domain in the UK you heard a LOT of Elvis. Copyright reduces the extent of any work into the collective unconscious (thanks for that, Bill). Commercialisation of such art causes it to be removed deliberately: you don't want your hot new act to compete with the old and busted past performers, so stop printing them. The shop selves cost to stock and return nothing until the stock is sold, so fringe needs are not commercially viable. So don't ask for stock from unknown or old bands because they might not sell.

    Dr Who has made a lot of money on re-release for the BBC but many of the episodes were destroyed to make room for new master tapes. Degradation took more out of circulation. In many cases, the ONLY thing that kept these works alive were the people who, despite it being illegal and despite copyright denying their right to do so, copied and KEPT the works.

    And, if the BBC weren't wanting to make any money out of Dr Who, why can't some enterprising soul expend THEIR efforts and energy into selling Dr Who tapes? Oh, yeah, NOW the BBC want to make money off it, but they didn't want to spend the cost of keeping their originals; shows how much they valued their "IP", doesn't it.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Do we even bother commenting about how the Recording industry wants to lower artists cut?

    How the Artist is often the lowest paid out of all the royalties received?

    >>while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song, we can usually name the performer.

    What an absolute idiot. He's just signed up, in response, to giving the worlds biggest financial terrorists a license to make money of an artist that's dead and gone long before the industry stops making money off it.

    Piracy feeds terrorism? Wake up. Your industry is the terrorist here, holding the world's creativity hostage, while your anally invasive friends in government pass laws to make your crimes legal.

    I vote we put the BPI, RIAA, and MPIAA heads in public stocks so we can throw rotten veg - and anything else that comes to mind - at them.

  28. night troll


    <The Tory opposition, however, has offered the BPI copyright extension in exchange for an undertaking from its members to provide "positive role models for young kids to look up to, draw inspiration from, and aspire to be".>

    Is that before or after they take the kids to court for their pocket money for shareing on P2P networks. The only role model the BPI (the Big Pansy Institute, I like that) is as money grasping, could not care a fuck, intimidating bastards who think they should be the ones passing laws insted of our corrupt incompetent gov'ment.

    Sorry shouldn't hold back, I should have said what I really mean ;-)

  29. Anonymous Cowherd

    The 50 year period also gave the purchasers certain rights

    People who bought a copy of a recording 50 years ago had the implied future right to do whatever they wished with it when that period expired. This right would pass to their heirs and successors, so that, when the period expired, anyone that had physical possession of the copy could use it to make derivative works, or to re-issue it unchanged it they wished.

    By extending the copyright period now, the law will diminish the value of possession. Without the change in the law the value of possession would increase as the lapse in copyright loomed.

    Since the right to do whatever you wished with a recording when copyright expired was costed into the original purchase price, it also means that the recordings will retrospectively become over-priced. This suggests that some sort of refund, with inflation for 50 years added in, should be payable to the current owners of any such copies.

    Anyone that could prove that they were intending to re-issue the recordings should also logically be able to sue for damages (loss of anticipated income) suffered as a result of the change. Though who they would sue is a difficult one.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Unification of laws

    In principle, I am not in favour of the extension of any copyrights, BUT I have to agree with those who say it's unfair that performers don't get the same protection as authors/composers, I would logically have to accept an extension to life+70.

    Parity with Americans is a red herring -- parity should be against peers in the EU: composers and authors.

    And to the usual crowd crying "I only get paid once for making X, why should they be any different?" well, let me explain.

    The cost of a chair is your time + materials. The chair comes in at £50. The punter pays £50. Everyone's happy.

    Unfortunately it takes a little longer to make an album than a chair, and while the materials (CD and packaging) are dirt cheap, the recording process is anything but. Some famous and much-loved albums have taken several years to make. A pay-once scheme would cost about £100,000 per album in many instances. Who's going to pay that for an album? Yes, they could resell it if there was no copyright protection, but then the next person would just resell it too -- because there's no copyright protection.

    Royalties exist to spread the very high cost over a lot of people and a lot of time.


    The risk is on the artist, too. The artists may need the exorbitant profit from their Unplugged albums to cover the cost of their abortive attempts to enter the rap/prog/dance market.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    95 years? 50 years? Surely 6 months is more appropriate.

    Still unconvinced one should be paid for years and years for a job you did on a few hours, one day, sometime in the past. Most of us aren't offered that sort of sweet deal in our jobs. Why should the elite of the arts & entertainment industry? Hey look, I've done five minutes work, you lot can keep me for life now. After all that's my pension you're discussing.

    What is it that makes an EU commissioner support this sort of rot ?

  32. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Ah , Mrs Millionaire Vivendi , the peoples euro rep can be very persuasive when she needs to be !

    Since in the digital age it is the cheapest and most cost effective part of the business as the only audit trail is self created and one person with a fast computer can control the accounts from A to Z , mail out the checks or divert it as the case may be ! Also you don't need to use either payola or the nearest street corner person to feed the sucker as most of them have already been pensioned and replaced by the even dumber whining Amy's of this world and the punters already know the tunes very well !

    As Paris would say "a sucker is born every minute !".

  33. Paul

    @Unification of laws

    >>A pay-once scheme would cost about £100,000 per album in many instances.<<

    This is bollocks.


    (1) Chairs don't just get made. They get designed. The designer is a creative too. They get paid once, even though their design may be duplicated millions of times. They don't whine. They just get on with their job.

    (2) The music industry is in trouble because it's horrendously inefficient. Making an album should not cost £100,000 - most of that money is going on the wasteful gravy train - executives in big leather chairs - boozy lunches - and lets be honest - hard drugs.

    In any other ("normal") industry falling on tough times means cutting back on luxuries; trimming costs and working out how to make your product for less. Not in music. Funding of the gravy train seems to be paramount; and these middle aged suits need their coke, otherwise they get grumpy.

    Being a musician is quite a cool job I reckon. And plenty of people want to do it. So it doesn't require a special legislative pension scheme to attract applicants. If anything, we should be paying firefighters and nurses for 50 years after they save peoples' lives - not musicians for 50 years after they spend a few weeks or months doing what they enjoy - and certainly not the parasitic men in suits who seem to infest the entire music industry.

  34. Dr. Mouse

    What about...

    ...things which have already passed the 50-year period? Will they get the extension too? If so, what about the derived works which have already been done?

    Also, assume track X is going PD next week, but they bring in this extension tomorrow. What happens to the hard working artist who has made a derived work for release next week, spent the last year making it, and suddenly cannot use it.

    Or consider that an arrangement of said track X is scheduled to be used in an amateur dramatics performance, or a school play. They have spent well over a year in the planning, and months rehearsing, and now cannot use it without paying the (often extortionate) royalties on the track.

    The term has been set. It was an implied contract at the time the artist wrote the piece. Terms should not be changed on this.

    The only change I beleive it would be OK for them to implement would be that works produced FROM THE DATE OF THE CHANGE are subject to a new term. And, lets be honest, who is going to want to listen to the commercial, manufactured shite being produced now in 10 years time, let alone 50, or 70?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To compose something is an act of creation, which some might argue is a special case, as one may initially fail to correctly assess worth. But to perform the finished composition is to spend a little time using one's skills to create a recording, much the same as many other professions spend a little time doing whatever it is they do. So it isn't clear why that should attract debate regarding parity with authors/composers, rather than those who are paid for the time they have taken. The two circumstances should be debated separately.

    It may or may not take longer to create an album than a chair, depending on the quality of each item and the skill of those involved. But it matters little if it takes 1 day or 3. But several years ? If someone is taking many years at 38 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, to play the music for an album, then it seems to me that the artiste is trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes. The group that plays at my local pub can finish playing a tune in about 5 minutes.

    Even the composition should not take that amount of time. If it does then it is a labour of love for the art form, and not a valid commercial undertaking. Maybe it takes that long between start and finish to knock out a dozen tunes, but it isn't going to be worked on continually during that time unless the individual isn't in the right profession.

    Personally I think £100k an album seems rather over the top. But if one does value it at that, then one must be fairly sure it is a million seller album, so exactly what is the problem with a short period to cover costs an a small profit ?

    All seems like "special pleading" to me.

  36. Michael

    Might be great for Musicians , but it's Killing Science

    Most people in this debate are just focusing on music downloads . Watson and Crick's original paper on the "Proposal for the structure of Deoxyribonucleic acid " was published in Nature on April 2, 1953 - 61 years ago . The 95 year limit they're looking for would take us to 1913 . Anything after that ...... would have to be paid for..

    (read that again)....PAID FOR!! .

    No wonder people don't do science .... Not only are the courses more expensive , the graduate pay crap, but you even have to DRM on your F*&^ing research .

  37. Schultz

    Cut the copyright to 10 years

    ... The brilliant titles should have made their cut and the others, well, they should reconsider <newspeak> career options </newspeak>. If they worry about pensions, there are pension plans.

  38. Mark


    10 years is about right for the maximum in this day and age. I would say that software should be supported for three years beyond the expiry of copyright too, with the option of the copyright owner going "sod it, you can have it".

    But 10 years is more than enough to get the work released and re-released and maybe put on a "best of"/"now that's what I call" mix. Heck 5 years for music is probably sufficient. Books are more expensive and movies can take a wee while longer than a CD to get about. But how old is the DVD? It's being made obsolete. And the BR release gets a NEW copyright. So 10 isn't too short.

    What's still missing is the right to learn from the works. Encrypted DVDs are still illegal to decrypt even if it's out of copyright. Software is worse: you can't learn anything about software from its' binary. So all copyrighted works must have a transformative version made available when copyright expires. Software needs source code. DVDs need a decrypted version. WMA files need DRM removed and/or converted to un-drm'd MPEG video. etc.

    Failure should mean that you owe the public all the money you got from the deal that you then decided you didn't want to hold yourself to.

  39. Charles Hammond

    Copyright Rediculous

    You can not even get the music for a church hymnal without securing permission to print and use the songs. We are talking about songs that date back to the 1800's. Like in the USA the Mormon Song "Come Come Ye Saint" was written at the time of the Migration westward to the Salt Lake Valley. There are also songs that either use a melody or the lyrics of old English religious titles.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Record master v music copyright

    Some of your correspondents seem to be getting confused between the period of copyright in a recorded master and the period of copyright in a song or a musical composition.

    For instance Dr Mouse is going on about about some schoolkids who might have spent a year rehearsing a play and now can't use a 'track'? because it has come back into copyright protection. The play will presumably be presented in the school hall or a theatre which would automatically have a PPL license allowing them to play any recordings in public, so there's no problem and no special [prohibitive] payment to make.

    A song or musical composition has copyright protection for 70 years AFTER the death of the writer and the European Parliament is talking about extending the copyright in a recording from 50 to 70 years.

    To put this into perspective, 'Love Me Do' recorded by The Beatles and released in 1962 would fall into 'Public Domain' at midnight on 31 December 2012, [or 2057 if the extension is granted]. Meanwhile the song or musical composition ' Love Me Do' written by Lennon & McCartney will not fall into 'Public Domain' until 70 years after the death of Paul McCartney, which will be 2078 at the VERY earliest.

    One other thing, many people also seem to think that all the money from the sale of a record goes to the record company. The artist receives a royalty from each sale as does the songwriter, so an artist who is also the songwriter could receive up to around one third of what the record company gets (more if they publish their own songs). Admittedly this level of royalty would apply only to some of the bigger artists (Bowie, McCartney, U2 Springsteen etc) whereas many recording artists would be likely to be getting as little as around 10% of the record companies' return on each sale [excluding any songwriting royalty]

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