While many in this country are trying to reduce the length of copyright protection, in Britain, they’re talking about extending it, or so says the head of a British music trade group in the Guardian:

At the moment, copyright protection in the UK for recorded music lasts for 50 years. This means that all the artists who took part in the 60s music revolution will soon see their recordings fall out of copyright and their earnings dry up….

“Who made this stupid law in the first place?” Kenney Jones, drummer of the Small Faces and the Who, asked recently in a Sunday newspaper. …

It is not only the musicians who will lose out. So will British music. The BPI announced this month that 17% of revenue from the UK recording industry is invested in new recordings. This is proportionately more in R&D than the aerospace, computer and car industries.

This investment has contributed to a boom in new British music from artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Corinne Bailey Rae, James Blunt and Kaiser Chiefs. Seven of the Top 10 best-selling albums for the first quarter of 2006 were debut albums. Insufficient copyright protection, however, will reduce revenues and limit reinvestment in new talent. …

I wonder how similar fights are playing out in Germany, France, Asia, and the rest of the world.

  • BW

    Copyrights should last as long as the average CD lasts. Having to buy a new copy of a CD because the record companies made it difficult to back up that one I just stepped on – Who made this stupid law in the first place?

  • Michael

    Well, we all know how it played out here in the US (or we should): The Copyright Term Extension Act, or the Bono Act, named after the congressional sponsor who had a vested interest in its passage. (Sonny died before it could be passed, but worked for years to do it, and with his wife in his seat and his tragic death on everyone’s mind, it became easier to push it through.)

    Bono had wanted copyright to last forever, but had to settle for the longest possible term that could be considered constitutional.

  • Glyn

    I think that people are trying to get the UK in accord with other countries in the European Union such as Germany.

  • In Germany, we tend to equal everything either with the European Union or the U.S., whatever seems to be more appropriate. Generally, I would also assume that we tend to extend the copyrights but we won’t bother generally because the time German musicians were famous and could have earned what they deserved, radio or any other music-transporting media had not been invented. And as far as Modern Talking is concerned, I do not think, that cpyrights must exist at all.

  • PR

    Boo Hoo…after getting paid for something for 50 years, we wont be able to squeeze anymore money out…..

    Poor Mick will have to play a few more Super Bowls to make his next Billion…

  • I thought it was the Mickey Mouse protection act that extended the copyright.

    If things keep going in the present direction we won’t have any history either. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech is copyright. Imagine having to pay a royalty to quote Lincoln.

    And what is with protecting a person’s “persona”. I can’t pretend to be Charlie Chaplin without permission. How about George Washingon, is that still OK?

    Things have gotten out of hand. The life of the author (or perhaps the author + 50 years to protect the family) should be enough for anyone. But, of course, corporations live forever…

  • There is a great benefit to TV and movie producers, and through them the public, in having music copyright protection expire in 50 years or less.

    Getting permission for music is one of the most time-consuming aspects of TV and movie production.

    50 years of royalties is enough.

  • I think, if we compare the creativity, innovation, quantity and hotness of British and German music in the sixties, the problem will not be so groundbreaking in “plain D”. We had then Udo Juergens, Vicky Leandros and Esther & Abi Ofarim. No Fab Four, no Kinks, no Who, no Cream, …

  • “Keep buying Rolling Stones box sets or no more new music” — this is the best excuse that the British recording industry can come up with for extending copyright? I’d much rather see what might happen if the English ‘songbook’ of hits from the 60’s passed into the public domain. Instead of a few licensed remakes here and there you could have a veritable explosion of variations and reinterpretations that would be worth a hell of a lot more than another retread collection of Queen’s Greatest Hits.

  • Does this mean that all the Beatles songs will soon enter the public domain?

  • JohnnyL

    Looks like the British recording industry has been living off the fat of the 60’s for far too long and will now have to adjust to a lower revenue stream from the great hits of the 70’s and 80’s. Justifying forever copyrights in order to produce acts like the Artic Monkeys 50 years later just doesn’t cut it. They should have invested more in the 70’s and 80’s to produce high revenue acts with in demand catalogs in order to buffer the fall of in revenues from the 60’s artists.

  • Berenger

    If you really want to encourage innovation then surely you should reduce copyright to something like 7 years. Then if record execs want to maintain a coke habit then they would have to come up with new stuff all the time that people are willing to buy and not parasitically live off works of 50 or more years old. Also if bands want to eat then they would have to come up with new material instead of relying on recycled past glory and new distribution formats.

  • Sam

    What about Creative Commons? I’ve been looking into them alot of late and they seem to propose a much fairer deal to the artist than copyright which generally seems to restrict the artist’s ownership on their own music!!!!
    For example, I recently came across a music website ( that uses creative commons and that pays it’s artists 50% of all the income made (compare that to 4.5 cents for each 99-cent song given by sony to its artists on i-tunes). What kind of implications does this have for copyright?