Friday, March 13, 2009

EU copyright term extension vote

Leading intellectual property academics are warning again of the dangers of the proposals coming before the EU parliament on 23 March to extend copyright term in sound recordings. The copyright term webpage at the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management at Bournemouth University says:
"On 23 March 2009, the European Parliament is due to vote on a Directive, extending the term of copyright for sound recordings. Such an extension, from 50 to 95 years (or perhaps 70 years), will harm Europe’s culture and economy.

A signed press release from key European experts opposing the extension has been released, including: the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM), Bournemouth University; Centre for Intellectual Property & Information Law (CIPIL), University of Cambridge; Center in IT and Law (CRID), Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix de Namur; Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI), University of Strasbourg; Max-Planck-Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law, Munich; Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam; Centre for Intellectual Property Rights, Catholic University Leuven; NEXA Center for Internet & Society, Politecnico di Torino.

View the Joint Press Release by European Academics - 11 March 2009 (pdf - 319kb) press release.

Additionally, a list of independent studies and the key signatories opposing the proposed Copyright Term Extension is now available.

Download Independent Studies of Copyright Term Extension (pdf - 150kb)"

It's worth quoting the press release in full:
"Joint Press Release by European Academics (11 March 2009)

The Proposed Directive for a Copyright Term Extension

On 23 March 2009 the European Parliament is due to vote on a Directive,
extending the term of copyright for sound recordings. Such an extension, from 50
to 95 years (or perhaps 70 years), will harm Europe’s culture and economy.
The Directive was proposed by Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy,
against the advice of all independent studies on the issue. The legislative
process was rushed, and there has been only the most superficial parliamentary

The European Parliament is being asked to remove sound recordings from the
public domain for another generation, ostensibly in order to benefit performers. In
reality, copyright extension will serve the shareholders of four major multinational
companies that control the valuable recordings of the 1960s (Universal, Warner,
Sony and EMI).

It is not surprising that many performers’ organisations and collecting societies
support the Proposed Directive. They do not have to carry the costs – which are
likely to exceed EURO 1 billion to the general public (analysis based on the
Commission’s own figures – see study 8, below). Many performers also do not
appear to understand that the proposal would lead to a redistribution of income
from living to dead artists.

If Europe wishes to keep its ability to innovate, it must not lock in the current
industry structure at a moment of great technological change, it must not inhibit
digital creators and archives in the exploration of music - music which has been
paid for once already, during the existing term!

The public will not be fooled. If copyright law, cynically, departs from its purpose,
piracy becomes an easy option.

If the Proposed Directive really wanted to help living performers, it would (i) limit
the term to the artist’s life, (ii) make such an extended term not transferable to
record producers (labels), (iii) regulate that the extended period will be managed
via collecting societies (ensuring that sound recordings will become available),
and (iv) regulate contracts during the existing term (e.g. by introducing use-it-orlose-it provisions).

We urge the European Parliament, and the governments of member states of the
European Union, to consider carefully the independent evidence on copyright
term extension, and reject the Directive in its proposed form."
Sound Copyright are again urging people to contact their MEPs about the issue. They also prvovide some really sensible tips on how to communicate with MEPs and an excellent crib sheet on the effects of term extension.

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