The European Parliament has voted to extend copyright on music recordings from 50 to 70 years. Supporters believe that the extension will protect Europe’s creative talent. Apparently, they think that inspiration, talent and the quality of the performance of a musician will be improved by knowing that if successful, he/she will be able
to continue to reap profits for longer than the half century previously allowed.
Opponents argue that the change will benefit major record companies and top-earning performers at the expense of consumers. This is clearly the case, since there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Last year the European Commission proposed a 95 year extension, to ensure, presumably, that grandchildren of pop-singers who failed to invest wisely, would still not have to work for a living. Apparently MEPs opted for the shorter 70 year extension to smooth negotiations on the draft legislation with member states; the national governments of several of which have expressed concerns that the Commission’s proposal will have negative repercussions.
MEPs have also voted that record producers should be required to place 20% of the extra revenue they gain from the copyright extension into a fund for session musicians. They also approved a ‘use it or lose it’ clause allowing performers to recover their rights to a recording after 50 years if the record label does not market it.
Now this is something I appreciate more. Perhaps, the idea could be extended to patent drafters and others who merely earn salaries for their creativity.
Charlie McCreevy, the European commissioner for the internal market, has gone on record saying that “Talking to the performers, not the superstars, made me realise that something needed to be done,” he believes that the amendment is needed to “bridge the income gap the performers face when they turn 70”, which it describes as “the most vulnerable period in their lives”.
Maybe compulsory pension plans or national insurance would be a better solution?
I think that it would be easier to demand compliance with copyright legislation if it was better thought out and struck a fairer balance.