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22nd Feb 2020

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EU extends music copyright protection to 70 years

  • Older artists will benefit from copyright revenues for longer (Photo: realSMILEY)

Ageing rock stars will benefit from music royalties for a longer period of time under a new regulation adopted on Monday (12 September) by the ministers of EU affairs, extending the current copyright protection from 50 to 70 years.

Out of EU's 27 member countries, 17 voted in favour of the extension, while Belgium, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden voted against. Austria and Estonia abstained.

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"Performers generally start their careers young and the current term of protection of 50 years often does not protect their performances for their entire lifetime. Therefore, some performers face an income gap at the end of their lifetimes," EU ministers explained in a press statement.

The new rule will bring performers' rights closer to authors' copyrights, which expire 70 years after the author's death. A number of ageing rock stars, including Cliff Richards, campaigned in the UK to have the law extended as the rights protection for their early 60s songs have almost run out.

In the US, the terms of copyrights are even longer: 95 years from the date of the release and until 2049 at the earliest. Initially, the EU sought to enforce similar terms, but the law was watered down by member states and the EU legislature.

Impala, the association of independent music companies, said the extension is a positive sign for small record labels.

"At a time when certain interests seek to weaken copyright for their own purposes, this sends a vital message that the right of creators to earn a living is taken seriously by the EU," Impala said in a statement.

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger told the BBC that the EU's decision was "obviously advantageous" to musicians, since the record industry currently prevents artists from earning "as much as they used to."

Abba member Bjorn Ulvaeus was glad to see that the ruling will help him fight the Swedish band's songs being used in advertising without their permission.

"And the thousands of lesser-known musicians around Europe who are enriching our life and culture can get the fair reward in return for their work that they deserve," he added, as quoted by the BBC.

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