The European Parliament has voted to extend the copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years.  

In the EU under the Copyright Term Directive (2006/116/EC), sound recordings enjoy a 50 year term of protection. Recordings made in the 1950s and 1960s are now coming to the end of their copyright term (or have already done so). This issue has been the subject of significant lobbying by musicians who do not want to see their works being exploited for free during their lifetime.  

In July 2008, the European Commission published a proposal to amend the Copyright Term Directive to extend the term of protection for sound recordings to 95 years. The European Parliament has now approved the Commission’s proposal for an extension of the term but has reduced the protection period to 70 years. In addition to the extension of the copyright term itself, the proposals include the following:  

  1. A dedicated fund for session musicians financed by contributions from producers, who must contribute 20% of the revenues obtained from the extension of the copyright term annually, the fund to be administered by collecting societies;
  2. The rights in the recording will revert to the performer if the record company stops marketing the recording during the extended term of protection; and
  3. Producers will not be able to rely on existing contractual agreements with performers to deduct monies from any additional royalties arising during the extended term of protection. Performers will be able to renegotiate contracts concluded before the entry into force of the proposed legislation.  

The Commission intends to begin an assessment of whether a similar term extension would benefit the audio-visual sector. It is proposed that member states have two years to implement the legislation. The European Council will now consider the matter.  

The UK government has previously rejected an extension of the copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years and the Gowers Review concluded that there was no economic case to support an extension. However, the government has more recently indicated that it may support an extension of the term to 70 years.