Europe to Extend Copyrights for Musicians to 70 Years

April 30, 2009 Updated: April 30, 2009

European Parliament agreed to increase the term of copyright protection for performers and record producers from 50 to 70 years, after a legislative proposal was adopted on April 23.

After the approval of the report of Brian Crowley from the group in the EU parliament, Union of Europe of the Nations, Ireland, the members of the EU parliament (MEPs) agreed to increase the term of protection of copyright so that performers and phonogram producers can receive royalties from copyrights within 70 years after the first publication or performance of their work. Increased protection of copyrights will be for the benefit of producers, thanks to the additional compensations arising from the increase.

The MEPs approved the creation of a special fund for studio musicians. It will be financed with contributions from the producers who benefit from the extended copyright. They will be required to pay for this at least once a year, totaling at least 20 percent of the revenue earned through the extended copyrights. The fund will provide salaries for those studio musicians who have given up their rights when signing a contract for execution.

To ensure that all contractors are benefiting from the extended term of copyrights, the original legislative proposal was amended by the members in order to prevent the retention of copyright royalties to performers because of previous signed agreements.

European Parliament approved the amendment, which allows contractors the re-negotiation of existing contracts entered into by them before the entry into force of the directive, and 50 years after the first issue of their phonograms.

MEPs urge the initiation of the evaluation of the impact on the European audiovisual sector, which should be completed by Jan. 1, 2010. Its aim is to assess whether there is a need for similar extension of protection of copyrights of producers and operators in the audiovisual sector.

Under the approved directive, if 50 years after the issue of phonograms producers have not yet submitted it to the public, the performers may request termination of the contract, which transfers their rights to the record company. Then, the producers have one year to make the phonogram available to the public. If this does not happen, they lose their rights over it.

Member States of the European Union will have two years to transpose the new directive.

According to the current European legislation, musical recordings are protected for a maximum of 50 years. This means that during this period, performers receive royalties each time their work plays. After a period of 50 years, the performers stop receiving income from the use of their works.

Composers already have a period of copyright protection of 70 years after their death.