House Bills Aim To Add 20 Years To Copyrights

House copyright subcommittee chairman Carlos Moorhead (D-Calif.) offered a bill last week that would extend for an additional 20 years the protection of copyrighted works of songwriters, film studios and authors.

Similar legislation is expected to be offered as early as this week in the Senate by Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The proposal has wide industry support, greatly enhancing prospects for passage.

Under current copyright law, creative artists and their heirs receive royalties on their works through the life of the author, plus 50 years. The Moorhead and Hatch bills would grant copyright protection for the life of the author, plus 70 years.

Current law grants a flat 75 years of copyright protection for most motion pictures, sound recordings and other collaborative “works for hire.” Under Moorhead’s and Hatch’s plans, protection for collaborative works would run for 95 years.

Moorhead and Hatch are patterning their bills after legislation adopted by the European Union last year extending the copyright term to “life plus 70 years.” The EU edict takes effect in July.

Co-sponsors of the Moorhead bill include musician-turned-politician Sonny Bono (R-Calif.). Also sponsoring the bill is Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.), the ranking Democrat on Moorhead’s panel, and Reps. Howard Coble (R-N.C), George Gekas (R-Pa.), Howard Berman (D- Calif.) Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Bob Clement (D-Tenn.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va).

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