15th Apr 2024

Bee Gee to fight for creators rights in Europe

Bee Gee Robin Gibb is set to "champion" the rights of creators in Europe, saying artists should have royalties for life.

Singer-songwriter and part of the former brotherly trio the Bee Gees has become the president of an organisation representing 2.5 million creative artists across the world, it was announced on Friday (1 June).

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"I'll work to champion all rights of authors' and writers' right across the board, copyright and the freedom for all writers who don't usually get a fair share of the pie," Mr Gibb told EUobserver after speaking at a conference on creative copyrights in Brussels.

"It is a very broad spectrum that I'm presenting," he said, but pointed out that one of the issues he would work on is to increase the time an artist has the right to royalties for his or her work.

"[When the] 50-year period runs out, they don't get anymore record royalties - that's a very serious issue because that is taking place now," Mr Gibb said, pointing out that he will fight for an extension to a lifetime.

Under EU rules, authors of songs and their families benefit from copyright for the whole of their lives plus 70 years, while performers of songs and their producers benefit for just 50 years from the date of recording.

This means that while Mr Gibb will continue to receive royalties for the 1967 Bee Gees hit ‘Massachusetts' for his life plus 70 years more, he and his brothers interpretation as performers of the song is only protected until 2017.

In the US, performers and producers hold recording rights for between 95 and 120 years, while performers in Mexico get 75 years and 70 years in Australia, Chile, Brazil, Peru and Turkey.

Although the European Commission is currently looking into the issue, a decision is not expected until 2008. A UK treasury report last year recommended the protection should not be extended.

Mr Gibb said he decided to get involved with The International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies, (CISAC) because respect for copyright in a digital age is vital for all creators and artists.

"The emerging digital technologies allow a new mass method of distribution of artists' works to the public," he said, adding that "we have to be in control and safeguard that."

He explained that behind every commercial, movie, song and other creative productions in the digital economy are the creators "and we need to ensure that industry or politicians get this message."

Mr Gibb will be the president for a period of three years while Mexican movie maker Alfonso Cuarón – famous for ‘Y tu mamá también' and ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' – is to be the vice president.

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