Saturday, September 06, 2008

Old, starving musicians look forward to an extra small loaf a year

The thought of shivering retired musicians suddenly receiving cash for their work in the 1950s and turning up the electric fire to, well, on. That was supposedly the driving force behind the EU's recommendation of extending copyright in recordings from the current half a century.

So, how much can these people look forward if the change is made?

Half a Euro a year. The Open Rights Group crunches the numbers in response to the UK government's submission for comments:

Our submission shows that for the vast majority of performers the projected extra sales income resulting from term extension is likely to be meagre: from as little as 50¢ each year in the first ten years, to as “much” as €26.79 each year. That’s because most of the gains (89.5%) will go to the top 20% of recording artists. Meanwhile the major labels will be dividing up millions in extra handouts every year.

What’s more, performing artists will make no extra revenue from radio airplay and other income streams arising from so-called “secondary remuneration rights”, and may even make less. The Commission assumes that fees paid by users of recordings, e.g. broadcasters, will remain constant. That means the amount of earnings available to performers will not be any bigger - it will just be sliced more thinly and distributed longer to more rightsholders. Performers will not earn any more over their life time, and are likely to earn less, as money will be transferred from the living to the estates of the dead.

Brilliant! A move which will be great for the major labels while actually leaving older musicians worse off. Cliff Richard must be feeling proud today.


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