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EU copyright directive: Everybody comments

By | Published on Tuesday 13 September 2011


Geoff Taylor, boss of record label trade body the BPI: “This important decision comes not a moment too soon.  An exceptional period of British musical genius was about to lose its protection. As a matter of principle, it is right that our musicians should benefit from their creativity during their lifetimes, and that they should not be disadvantaged compared to musicians in other countries. A longer copyright term is also good news for music fans, as it will ensure that UK record labels can continue to reinvest income from sales of early recordings in supporting new British talent and compete effectively in a global market”.

Alison Wenham, boss of the Association Of Independent Music: “Providing near parity with other members of the music industry, in terms of how long their copyrights can continue to earn them income and enjoy protection throughout their careers has been the goal. Copyright term extension to 70 years achieves this goal, and gives the European music community a much needed boost”.

Helen Smith, Executive Chair of pan-European indie labels trade body IMPALA: “Narrowing the copyright gap with the USA and other territories is an essential move for Europe to capitalise on its world-leading position in creating music. Those most affected by the extension will be hundreds of thousands of individual artists and performers, as well as thousands of micro, small and medium-sized music companies which produce so much of the innovative and diverse music released in Europe today (80% of all new music is released by independent labels). At a time when certain interests seek to weaken copyright for their own purposes, this sends a vital message that the right of creators to earn a living is taken seriously by the EU”.

Plácido Domingo, in his new guise as Chairman of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry: “The decision to extend the term of protection for recordings in Europe is great news for performing artists. Artists at the start of their careers will benefit from an increased pool of revenue that will be available to invest in new talent. Established artists can benefit from their work throughout their lifetimes. This is especially important today when licensed digital services make music widely available online. Extension of protection also reflects the important role performers play in the success of songs by narrowing the gap between the protection offered to recorded performances and that offered to compositions”.

Fran Nevrkla, CEO of UK recording rights collecting society PPL: “This is a tremendous development and we must recognise the goodwill of the politicians in Britain and other parts of Europe who understood that this key change in the copyright legislation was long overdue. I am delighted that we at PPL, jointly with our many thousands of individual performer and record company members, have been able to play an important role in this process. It is not possible to overstate the effectiveness of the sterling work by many individual PPL performers who signed copyright petitions, lobbied parliament here and in Brussels, and generally remained completely engaged and determined to succeed.  This copyright change will mean that the PPL income streams will continue to flow through to the whole community of recording artists, orchestral players, session musicians, backing singers and other performers for an additional period of 20 years which is so important, especially when those individuals reach ripe old age and are no longer able to exercise their profession.  The enhanced copyright framework will also enable the record companies, big and small, to continue investing in new recordings and new talent”.

John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union: “This represents a major step forwards that will be welcomed by all recording musicians. It provides some acknowledgement of the important contribution that performers make to the European creative industries, as well as recognising the current discrepancy that exists between the copyright regime and performers rights. We have campaigned for this not on behalf of a handful of extremely rich, well-known artists, but on behalf of a huge number of highly skilled session musicians who were being short changed under the current system”.

Feargal Sharkey, boss of cross-sector trade body UK Music: “This is great news. I’d like to thank all the politicians who have stuck at this and finally voted for companies and particularly jobbing musicians for whom the extra 20 years of revenue will mean a great deal. And beyond the important realities of the commercial considerations, it’s great that recorded music gets the cultural recognition it deserves bringing those rights more in line with the rights of other areas of the creative arts”.

Stephen Navin, chief at the Music Publishers’ Association: “We welcome today’s decision by the Council to adopt this important directive, and as the creators, promoters and guardians of musical works publishers will in particular welcome the move to harmonise the treatment of co-written works across Europe. Not only will this decision afford greater protection to these works, it will also help to clear the path towards more efficient multi-territorial licensing. This simplification provides clarity to the benefit of both rights owners and music users alike as we gather pace towards the creation of a global repertoire database for musical works. Harmony, clarity, growth, enlightened EU legislation – a unique combination!”

Patrick Rackow, CEO of the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors: “BASCA welcomes any move which signifies a commitment to the ongoing importance of copyright. On behalf of our members, we thoroughly support this latest development”.

Sheila Bromberg, a life-long session musician who worked with The Beatles among many others: “As a working musician who recorded with a number of well known artists, particularly in the 60s and 70s, this 20 year extension granted to recordings finally recognises and more fairly rewards the work I did all those years ago. It may not be huge sums of money but to an OAP as I am, it is welcome”.

Les Reed, musician and composer: “To say that I was totally overcome by the wonderful news of the extension of copyright for performers, from 50 to 70 years is, without doubt, the understatement of the century! I know that I speak on behalf of all my fellow musicians/performers, when I say that without the tremendous work carried out by PPL on our behalf, against opposition, this situation would never have evolved. Thanks to PPL, we can all be assured that true justice has taken place and we will all be eternally grateful. Having personally been involved in session work as pianist/musical director/arranger since 1958, I now don’t have to worry that our John Barry Seven, Adam Faith, Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck recordings, amongst others, are jeopardised for at least another 20 years”.

Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, which advocates copyright reform in favour of users: “Term extension is a cultural disaster. Research showed that around 90% of the cash windfall from copyright levies will fall into the hands of record labels. Despite the rhetoric, small artists will gain very little from this, while our cultural heritage takes a massive blow by denying us full access to these recordings for another generation. The government examined the evidence on this question twice – in the Gowers Review and Hargreaves – and both were highly sceptical. Hargreaves – only a matter of months ago – pointed out that copyright policy needs to be based on evidence, and that for copyright term extension, there was no real evidence of benefit. While Hargreaves shied away, probably for political reasons, from recommending changing course back to rejection, the report was very damning”.

Andrew Robinson, Culture Spokesman for The Pirate Party, which advocates radical copyright reform in favour of users: “There can be no justification for this change, other than sheer greed on behalf of record companies. Copyright law is normally justified by saying that artists need to be compensated for their work, or they wouldn’t make music, but virtually the whole of modern pop music was produced under the 50 year term. Extending the rights of Elvis, Hendrix, and Amy Winehouse won’t get them to produce more work. All this copyright extension will do is channel more money into the pockets of record company executives, at the cost of depriving the public access to work for which the record companies have already been paid. This change will simply mean the music industry will rely more on their back catalogue, rather than investing in new artists. While EU politicians may do what the IFPI wants, the public they are supposed to represent grow increasingly sceptical of perpetually extended copyright. Lobbyists may be able to buy the laws they want, but growth of the Pirate Party movement shows that the public will not put up with corruption forever”.

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