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Copyright law changed

13-09-2011

Musicians are celebrating as the EU is set to extend money-making copyright protection on their music by 20 years. The ruling, known as 'Cliff's law' after Sir Cliff Richard backed the new rules, would ensure artists received royalties for their work for 70 years, rather than 50.

Under the 50-year rule, the copyright on songs by Richard, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who would have expired in the next few years, allowing anyone to use the songs in any way - and the performers and record labels would have ceased to receive royalties.

The new directive of the EU intends to increase the level of protection of performers by acknowledging their creative and artistic contributions. Performers generally start their careers young and the current term of protection of 50 years often does not protect their performances for their entire lifetime. Therefore, some performers face an income gap at the end of their lifetimes. They are also often not able to rely on their rights to prevent or restrict objectionable uses of their performances that may occur during their lifetimes. The directive also foresees measures in order to ensure that artists who have transferred their exclusive rights to phonogram producers actually benefit from the term extension and may recuperate their rights subject to certain conditions.

Furthermore, the directive harmonizes the method of calculating the term of protection of songs and other musical compositions with words created by several authors. The term of protection will expire 70 years after the death of the last person to survive: the author of the lyrics or the composer of the music.

Sources: news.sky.com and www.consilium.europa.eu