Copyright term length is the amount of time you can retain the rights of your work before it enters the public domain. Here in the UK, this length has been fifty years for decades. However, recently, the EU Council has voted in favour of extending music copyright to seventy years. This news has been gladly received by record labels and musicians alike. Brussels has not specified an implementation date. However, it has suggested that the new provisions should be incorporated into member states’ legislation in the next two years.
This will undoubtedly mean that artists such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones will be urging the government to act fast and incorporate the Directive into UK law, before their early hits become part of the public domain. This would mean that anyone could use their music so it’s understandable why they would want to stop this.
Who Will the Copyright Change Affect?
The contention in this matter has always been that it would be mainly record companies and already wealthy artists who would benefit from a change in legislation. Of course, it would help lesser known musicians and session musicians, but to a much lesser extent. Record companies claim that this extension in copyright term length will allow them to invest more in new musical talent. They could also offset money that has been spent on less successful acts.
Artists such as Cliff Richards and Adam Faith have already started to lose ownership of their early work. The implementation of this directive will not retrieve them the copyright to music already lost to the public domain. It would only secure music from the date of implementation. Once the law isn changed, musicians will need record labels to release their music in different formats to retain the rights. We can expect to see a few ‘anniversary’ and ‘best of’ releases appearing in the next few years.