European Developments: Copyright Term Extended

By Thomas Carey.

May 2009 IP Update

Copyright in Musical Performances. On April 23, 2009, the European Parliament adopted a legislative resolution that extends the term of copyright protection for new music recordings from 50 years to 70 years.  The 70-year term represents a compromise from the 95-year term proposed by the European Commission. This change in the law must now be translated into local legislation by the member nations of the EU in order to become effective. Member states have two years to accomplish this task.

The legislation establishes a 20% set-aside of sales revenue to be paid to session musicians, a ban on deductions from revenue for the purpose of computing royalties due to performers, and a “use it or lose it” provision that requires record labels to commercialize the recording or have the rights to do so revert to the performer. This last provision has been criticized because the reversion right would not arise until 50 years after the performance.