Friday, February 13, 2009

MEPs back plan to make Europe a less creative place

The proposal to extend copyright in recordings from the already over-generous 50 years to a preposterous 90 years has been approved by the European parliament. Some sort of vague attempt has been made to try and stop this turning into a cash cow for multinational companies:

The approved report, drafted by Brian Crowley (UEN, IE), amends existing legislation to increase the copyright protection for music recordings to 95 years.

To ensure that performers fully enjoy the additional royalties deriving from copyright extension, the committee amended the original text so as to prevent the use of previous contractual agreements to deduct money from the additional royalties.

Great news: if your recording hasn't recouped in fifty years, the burden is lifted. It's not known if Crowley considered how little the funds raised from the copyright over fifty years must have been if the contract hadn't recouped yet, but surely he must have. Let's assume this is just his little joke.

Nobody really believes this is going to make much difference for any individuals - if Crowley had been serious, he would have drafted the legislation to stop any funds going to companies at all rather than just a couple of sops.

Oh, yes - the other sop:
A dedicated fund for session musicians was also approved by the committee. This fund would be financed by contributions from producers, who would be obliged to set aside for this purpose, at least once a year, at least 20% of the revenues gained from the proposed extension of copyright term.

Committee members also amended a provision relating to this fund so as to give collecting societies, which represent performers' and producers' interests, the right to administer the annual supplementary remuneration.

Given that the figures involved are tiny, it's likely most of this fund will be swallowed up by the collection agencies administration. If there must be a fund, and there must be administration, wouldn't creating a charitable body to oversee the funds make more sense?