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U.K. musicians claim copyright coup

Government to extend rights to 70 years

LONDON — British musicians and record companies are celebrating a major victory after the government’s culture secretary Andy Burnham recommended that the copyright term in sound recordings should be extended from 50 to 70 years.

The announcement marks a complete turnaround in government thinking, as up until recently the U.K. music industry was all but resigned to thinking that its campaign for copyright extension had fallen on deaf ears.

However, Burnham told the U.K. Music creators conference Thursday that he and political colleagues now thought extending the term of copyright from 50 to 70 years was appropriate so the system could deliver “maximum benefit to performers and musicians.”

The Musicians’ Union has wholeheartedly welcomed Burnham’s decision to back the extension of term for performers.

Horace Trubridge, the MU’s assistant general secretary, said: “The MU has always argued that term of protection should not run out during a performer’s lifetime, and we would support any proposal that supported this principle and was of direct benefit to performers.”

Earlier this year, European Internal Markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy stated his belief that the copyright term for sound recordings should be increased to 95 years throughout Europe and that proposal has won support of several countries.

Although the U.K. government has not gone that far, the concession of 70 years is being heralded as a significant victory for the British music business.

Feargal Sharkey, CEO of trade organization U.K. Music said: “At this critical time of change, the creative industries have never been more vital to this nation’s future prosperity. The announcement regarding term extension is a clear sign that government, like everyone in our industry, is committed to ensuring that U.K. music retains its status as the very best in the world.”

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