European Union Extends Music Copyright Protection to 70 Years

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Manyee Chow | Bloomberg Law Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2006/116/EC on the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights The European Union announced on September 12, 2011 that it has adopted the new Copyright Term Extension, which extends copyright protection for performances of recorded music by performers and producers of musical works from 50 years to 70 years. Member states opposed the original proposal to extend the term to 95 years. The directive will bring the rights of artists and producers in Europe closer in line with the protection offered to authors and composers, whose rights are enforceable for the duration of their life plus 70 years. Although there are various details that require individual EU members to implement, it is anticipated that the directive will be implemented by all EU states by 2014. The FAQ released by the EU provides further details.

Other Performers' Rights

The directive also includes a provision where the copyright of a work would revert back to the performer if a record company or producer fails/refrains from marketing or selling the work in sufficient quality within the meaning of the International Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations. Other measures to safeguard the position of performers include: ensuring performers will receive additional revenue from the extension; and preventing record producers from making deductions to the royalties paid to featured performers after the initial 50 years are over.

Co-Written Works

The directive also clarifies the calculation of copyright protection for co-written musical compositions—musical compositions consisting of more than one author. Previously, EU member states have calculated co-written musical compositions differently; some states have treated such a composition as a single piece of work, while other states have separated the work and accorded different terms of protection for different parts of the work. Under the directive, copyright protection will expire 70 years after the death of the last surviving author who was involved in the composition.
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