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UK extends copyright protection

The UK has implemented a 2011 European directive extending copyright protection for sound recordings from 50 years to 70 years after the recording is made

Cliff Richard

The changes are brought in by the Copyright and Duration of Rights in Performances Regulations 2013, implementing EU Directive 2011/77/EU. The Regulations were made on July 17, laid before Parliament on July 18 and come into force today (November 1).

The Regulations also harmonise the length of copyright term for co-written works. The copyright will expire 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.

Additional measures introduced include:

  • A session fund, which will pay session musicians 20% of revenues from sales of their recordings;

  • A so-called clean slate provision, under which a producer may not make deductions from payment to performers; and

  • A use-it or lose-it clause, allowing performers and musicians to claim back their performance rights if they are not being commercially exploited.

The Directive was agreed following lobbying from European performers, many of whose rights were set to expire under the 50-year rule. Some people dubbed it the Cliff Richard law, after the performer (right).

It was controversial, as several studies (such as the Gowers Review) had recommended not changing the copyright term, and some member states – notably Belgium and Sweden – opposed it.

In a statement, Minister for IP Lord Younger said: “These changes demonstrate the Government`s ongoing commitment to, and support for, our creative industries - who are worth billions to our economy.”

Jo Dipple, chief executive of UK Music, said: “We are pleased that the Government is implementing changes that acknowledge the importance of copyright to performers and record companies. This change will mean creators can rightfully continue to make a living from their intellectual property and works.”

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