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Performance Copyright extended by the European Parliament

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On 23 April 2009 the European Parliament voted to extend performance copyright from 50 to 70 years. Originally the proposal was seeking to protect performance copyright for 95 years, however, the vote by MEPs reduced the proposed protection to 70 years so as to win the agreement of EU member states. The measure must still be passed by individual EU countries but only recordings made in the 50 years before summer 2009 will qualify for the extended copyright.

A number of high profile performers such as Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Paul McCartney, U2 and Roger Daltrey have long campaigned to have the performance copyright rule extended so that European artists are on a more equal copyright footing with those in the United States. This news will mean that the royalty cheques will continue to roll in for these artists especially in relation to old hits such as, for example, the Beatles' first hit, Love Me Do which otherwise would have begun to fall out of copyright in the next few years.

Essentially the measure voted on yesterday aims to extend protection for the royalties earned by musicians for their part in recorded performances, and should not be confused with copyright for the creators or authors of works and their descendants, who already have protection that lasts for 70 years after their death.

Charlie McCreevy, the EU's Internal Market Commissioner, who proposed the copyright changes, said: "Some might argue that European creators are overprotected. Those who rely on copyright for their income would beg to differ. If artists stay in the music recording business because it pays to do so, consumers would enjoy more variety as a consequence.

"Europe's performers often live a very precarious existence at the best of times. This proposal ensures that performers can, in their late life, recoup a share in the income they generate."

At a time when even artists are feeling the pinch of the recession, I am sure that this will be welcome news.

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