The European Parliament has today extended the term of protection for music copyrights from 50 years to 95 years. Also contained in the legislation is a provision preventing past contractual agreements from deducting new royalties resulting from the extension. In addition, there is a provision providing for a session-musician fund to be created to which producers must pay 20% of new royalties. The Parliament Press Release considers a meeting by January 2010 to discuss an extension for audiovisual works, and the extension for music copyrights will be revisited in three years to assess its benefit going forward.
I can’t say that the extension makes me smile. I’ve written on the problems with extending copyright terms to perpetual copyright protection; its adverse impact on the public domain, and the friction it causes in the creation process. There is an optimal point of protection, and I believe that the U.S. system entered the point of diminishing returns with its latest copyright extension in 1998. Nevertheless, protection to a certain extent is good, and this is a good day for recording artists and musicians.