In a landmark vote, Euro MPs recently approved a European Commission proposal to extend the term of copyright protection for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. Relevant to adland? Yes indeed, confirms Amisha Patel who reveals some tucked away clauses.
Who: European Parliament
Where: European Union
When: 23 April 2009
Law stated as at: 31 May 2009
On Thursday 23 April 2009, the European Parliament voted by a majority of 377 votes to 2 in favour of extending copyright protection on music recordings from 50 to 70 years.
The European Parliament reached this compromise position, moving away from its original proposal to extend copyright protection for a further 45 years to 95 years. This followed resistance from the Council of the European Union and was a bid to facilitate an agreement with national governments.
Other changes that would be brought about by the legislation if adopted in its current form include:
- a fund for session musicians financed by contributions from producers (at least 20% of the revenues gained from the proposed extension of copyright term) to reward those session musicians who gave up their rights when signing the contract for their performance;
- a "clean slate" clause to prevent the use of previous contractual agreements to deduct money from additional royalties (deriving from the copyright extension) so that performers can fully enjoy these royalties;
- the possibility for performers to renegotiate contracts concluded before the entry into force of the legislation, 50 years after the first publication of their recording; and perhaps of most interest to the world of advertising…….
- a "use it or lose it" clause requiring production companies to return to performers any rights previously signed over if the production company fails to market the recording; and
- a "compulsory public domain" clause freeing up the recording for public use (subject of course to any other rights that might still apply such as rights in the music being performed) if, within a year after the term extension, neither the production company nor the performer show any interest in marketing the recording.
Why this matters:
Under current EU laws, performers only receive remuneration each time recordings of their performances are played in public. The legislation will more precisely align the term of copyright protection for sound recordings with the view that performers should receive protection during their lifetime.
The increased copyright protection will be hugely beneficial to music labels (particularly those who market top performing artists) who will receive revenues for a further 20 years as a result of the extension.
The requirement upon producers to market the sound recording appropriately throughout the term of the extended period under the "use it or lose it" clause and the threat of "compulsory public domain" to be imposed on production companies and performers alike if they fail to properly promote recordings should ensure that advertisers reap some of the benefit of the extension.
The extension is still subject to the approval by the European Council, however given the compromise made by the European Parliament, it is expected that member states will agree the new law.
It will then be a case of waiting to see how far the move to extend copyright will go: will it be extended to benefit the audiovisual sector (a position that is clearly being contemplated with the European Parliament asking the European Commission to launch an impact assessment of the situation in this sector by January 2010)?