17th feb, 2008

Should performing artists have 95 yrs of protection?

Thursday the 14. th the Commissioner of the Internal Market Charlie McCreevy launched a proposal for changing certain aspects of the copyright protection. He suggests that the term of protection for performing artists is increased to 95 years.


“If nothing is done, thousands of European performers who recorded in the late fifties and sixties will lose all of their airplay royalties over the next ten years. “I am not talking about featured artists like Cliff Richard or Charles Aznavour. I am talking about the thousands of anonymous session musicians who contributed to sound recordings in the late fifties and sixties. They will no longer get airplay royalties from their recordings. But these royalties are often their sole pension”,

The Commission does not expect the proposal to have an effect on consumer prices, citing economic studies on pricing.

What to think of this…

I dont like it. Why? Because I have read the Gowers review released last year. The excellent report gives very compelling evidence of why the status quo should be maintained:

  1. Economic evidence indicates that the length of protection for copyright works already far exceeds the incentives required to invest in new works.
  2. The extention will not create a situation comparable to other copyrighted works.
  3. Using the maximum revenues predicted, CIPIL has estimated that the net present value (NPV) of a prospective change in term would be 1 per cent or lower for performers. The report noted that distribution of income would be highly skewed, with most income going to the relatively small number of highly successful artists whose work is still comercially available after 50 years.

  4. Most income for sound recordings is generated within the first few years of issue. Therefore, extension would only raise revenue for a small minority of sound recordings, keeping the vast majority from being released from protection.

  5. And so on and so on


So why the extension? Because the performing artists wants it? Or because there are compelling economic arguments for the extension? 

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