UK musicians lobby Brown for copyright parity

A collection of leading UK musician members of the PPL have today sent a letter to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, complaining musicians aren’t being given a fair crack of the copyright whip – effectively becoming second place figures in the UK creative industry.

Europe, as well as the French and German governments, is already pushing through legislation to extend the copyright term on sound recordings.

“Why should our recordings have a shorter copyright term than the work of composers, authors, writers, painters and photographers? Why should we lose our recordings after 50 years? Why should others be able to profit from our recordings when we receive nothing? Our royalty payments may not seem much to you, but they matter to us,” the musicians complain.

The UK government has so far failed to support copyright term extension which would put musicians on parity with other creators (authors, composers, painters, photographers amongst many) and which is being both recognised and supported by the European Commission and governments around Europe.

John F. Smith, General Secretary, Musicians’ Union. “a time when the creative industries and music in particular, is the only growth area in the economy, how can they take this attitude towards the very people that provide the music industry with its raw material? Commissioner McCreevy’s proposal will definitely benefit recording musicians, and we must hope that our friends in Europe deliver no matter what the UK Government says.”

“The standard of work of the British session musician has brought world-wide accolades and created a massive input of revenue to this country,” said trombonist and well-known session-player Derek Wadsworth. “Yet we seem to gain nothing but apathy and indifference. We operate without pension schemes, without sickness or maternity leave, without paid holidays or expense accounts, and a guaranteed minimum wage would be a wild fantasy. Now that the government has the opportunity to show respect and support – or perhaps even a hint of gratitude – for our fine work, they choose to kick us in the teeth and oppose our extremely hard fought quest for the right to gain equity with other artists. This is disgraceful.”

The current copyright term for performers and producers in sound recordings is 50 years from release. The draft Directive on copyright term would extend that to 95 years from release. Authors, composers, writers, photographers, painters all have copyright terms of life plus 70 years. The copyright term for performers and producers in sound recordings in the USA is 95 years from release.

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