'Cliff's Law': Music Veteran's Triumph As EU Rules To Extend Copyright

Author:Mr David Flint and Valerie Surgenor

The European Union Council has recently voted to extend copyright protection on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years after the date of the original recording. The change follows an extensive campaign by Sir Cliff Richard and other artists to have the period for music copyright extended in order to reward artists on a long-term basis for their creative efforts.

Whilst the decision, christened "Cliff's Law," requires that all 27 EU Member States must incorporate the changes into national law within two years, eight Member States voted against the new period of copyright and two abstained on the basis that the extension would benefit only the minority.

Critics of the decision argue that the extension will largely benefit the major record labels and big artists, with many less well known musicians experiencing little gain. The change itself affects the copyright on studio recordings which are usually owned by large record labels. The position would be different if the extension applied to the right to the composition which belongs to the musician who produced it. The European Consumers' Organisation commented that EU consumers will have to wait "20 years longer than before for recordings to enter the public domain" and argued that the new laws favour a minority of famous older artists at the cost of higher licence fees for buyers.

However, a number of musicians including Jools Holland, Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba and Mick Jagger welcomed the EU Council's decision. They argue that the extension of the copyright period is fair payment for the time, creativity and...

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