WASHINGTON — Copyright owners and their heirs will see their royalty rights extended by another 20 years under a bill set for approval today by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Copyright Term Extension Act would increase the copyright term for authors from 50 years after death to 70 years. For owners of copyrighted works such as movies and recorded music the copyright term would be extended to 95 years from date of publication. Once the copyright expires, the work enters into the public domain and royalty payments are no longer due.
The bill is being pushed by the Motion Picture Asson. of America to ensure that U.S. copyright law is consistent with the European Union, which recently added 20 years to its copyright terms.
Also in the bill is a non binding “sense of Congress” resolution to encourage studios to enter negotiations with directors, screenwriters and actors. The creative guilds hope that the “good faith” negotiations called for by Congress will lead to the first royalty checks for people such as “Casablanca” scriptor Julius Epstein, who has never received a single residual payment since the 1942 classic first hit the screens.