The adoption of an EU Directive extending the term of copyright in sound recordings from 50 to 70 years was today welcomed by British music industry bodies BPI, The Musicians’ Union, AIM and PPL.

The industry bodies, which worked together closely to explain the benefits of extension to the previous Labour and current Coalition Government, hailed the approval of the Directive as an enormously positive step forward for everyone in British music – including music fans, featured artists, session musicians, producers and record labels.

Without the extension of copyright term, key recordings from the 1960s risked falling out of copyright. The strength and enduring appeal of music recorded in the 1960s and 1970s means the UK will benefit significantly from the new measure.

The Directive is expected to be implemented across all EU Member States by 2014, extending the term of protection from 50 to 70 years for performers and producers of recorded music.

Additional measures are contained in the Directive to ensure that both featured artists and session musicians reap the benefit of a longer copyright term, including:

  • A substantial new fund for session musicians from record company revenues in the extended term.
  • A requirement for labels to ensure all recordings are commercially available, failing which the artist will be entitled to release their recordings themselves.
  • A 'clean slate' for featured artists, writing off any unrecouped advances so that artists receive full royalties in the extended term.


Other countries, such as the United States, Australia and Singapore had already extended their terms of copyright.

British music fans will also have plenty to cheer from the extension of copyright term in the UK. The quality of classic recordings and their associated packaging, photography and sleeve-notes will remain high. Music fans will be reassured that when they buy a legal copy of a recording, the artists will be properly paid.

In addition, British record companies will be able to continue to invest revenues from sales of recordings from the 1960s and 1970s in developing and nurturing new artists. UK record labels invest more than £200m per year in A&R.

The heads of the industry bodies commented on the extension of copyright term:

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said, "This important decision comes not a moment too soon. An exceptional period of British musical genius was about to lose its protection. As a matter of principle, it is right that our musicians should benefit from their creativity during their lifetimes, and that they should not be disadvantaged compared to musicians in other countries.

"A longer copyright term is also good news for music fans, as it will ensure that UK record labels can continue to reinvest income from sales of early recordings in supporting new British talent and compete effectively in a global market."

John Smith, General Secretary of The Musicians' Union, said, "This represents a major step forwards that will be welcomed by all recording musicians. It provides some acknowledgement of the important contribution that performers make to the European creative industries, as well as recognising the current discrepancy that exists between the copyright regime and performers rights.

"We have campaigned for this not on behalf of a handful of extremely rich, well-known artists, but on behalf of a huge number of highly skilled session musicians who were being short changed under the current system."

Fran Nevrkla, Chairman & CEO, PPL said, "This is a tremendous development and we must recognise the goodwill of the politicians in Britain and other parts of Europe who understood that this key change in the copyright legislation was long overdue. I am delighted that we at PPL, jointly with our many thousands of individual performer and record company members, have been able to play an important role in this process."

He continued, "It is not possible to overstate the effectiveness of the sterling work by many individual PPL performers who signed copyright petitions, lobbied Parliament here and in Brussels and generally remained completely engaged and determined to succeed. This copyright change will mean that the PPL income streams will continue to flow through to the whole community of recording artists, orchestral players, session musicians, backing singers and other performers for an additional period of 20 years which is so important, especially when those individuals reach ripe old age and are no longer able to exercise their profession. The enhanced copyright framework will also enable the record companies, big and small, to continue investing in new recordings and new talent."

Alison Wenham, Chairman and CEO of AIM said, "Providing near parity with other members of the music industry, in terms of how long their copyrights can continue to earn them income and enjoy protection throughout their careers has been the goal. Copyright Term Extension to 70 years achieves this goal, and gives the European music community a much needed boost."

British session musicians and featured artists alike welcomed extension of copyright term:

Will Birch (musician, producer, songwriter and author): "Fantastic news and it means that a lot of musicians like myself will benefit financially from the extra twenty years. But I must just say that, as songwriter and published author where rights last for much longer, this is only fair."

Sheila Bromberg (session musician for artists including The Beatles): "As a working musician who recorded with a number of well known artists, particularly in the sixties and seventies, this twenty year extension granted to recordings finally recognises and more fairly rewards the work I did all those years ago. It may not be huge sums of money but to an OAP as I am, it is welcome."

Hugh Cornwell - The Stranglers: "This is fantastic news for performers. Thank God there are people like the PPL out there battling for this stuff, so we can get on with the playing."

Paloma Faith (musician): "As an artist who invests so much time, passion and spirit, into making music, I am pleased that I, along with my fellow artists will be paid in line with the rest of Europe. We absolutely do not go into making music for the money, but it is only right that we are paid fairly for the work we do. The extension of term is fantastic news for UK artists and the UK recording music industry as a whole."

Pat Halling (session musician for many artists including The Beatles): "I am a working musician, continuing today to be involved in recording and live concerts. Over the past sixty years as a studio musician I have played for numerous artists ranging from The Beatles to John Williams to name just two. On behalf of all my generation we are eternally grateful for all the hard work that has been done to ensure this much deserved victory for the 'little guys' that help us benefit from the revision of the copyright laws."

Jools Holland OBE (musician, composer and broadcaster): "It is fantastic news to hear that copyright term has been extended to 70 years. Artists put their hearts and souls into creating music and it is only fair that they are recompensed in line with the rest of Europe. It's important that creators get paid for the work they do and this extra twenty years is much deserved."

Dame Cleo Laine: "On behalf of all jazz musicians, this is a great result and welcome news. It's never easy to make money in the field of jazz so this extension, which will mean extra royalties, is critically important. In addition, it's also only right and fair for all of us to earn from our creative endeavours. My thanks to all, politicians included, for making this happen!"

Judd Lander (Session Musician - many artists including Paul McCartney, Spice Girls and Culture Club): "This has been a long time coming and is something that make sense and is fair for all musicians. It's a tough business at the best of times – and these are difficult times!

So any extra royalty revenues, and I can speak on behalf of lots of session musicians, is very welcome."

Phil Manzanera – Roxy Music: "I'm very pleased that this important piece of legislation has finally been voted through. I have been very fortunate in my own music career and worked with many recording musicians around the world to whom these extra revenue royalties will be significant. My thanks to all involved. It's a good day for session musicians!"

Tom McGuinness – Manfred Mann: "I was lucky enough to be able to meet some of the politicians here and in Brussels who voted through this legislation. They listened to us and now musicians such as myself will not lose our recordings. In fact, we'll get a slightly better deal because of the provisions they have put in the legislation."

Phil Pickett (musician, composer and producer): "Fantastic news! And my thanks to PPL and others for their tenacity and belief in pulling off a great result. I am proud to have played a small part in the lobbying process so I would also like to thank all the politicians who voted in favour of term extension and finally seeing the cultural importance of the contribution of countless session musicians who deserve this extension from an economic point of view."

Raphael Ravenscroft (saxophonist for many artists, recorded solo on Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street'): "This is fantastic news for the many musicians like myself who have spent hours in the studio working with many different colleagues on countless recordings. I am thrilled because it gives us fairness with other creators and recognises and rewards the contribution we all make."

Les Reed OBE (musician and composer): "To say that I was totally overcome by the wonderful news of the extension of copyright for performers, from 50 to 70 years is, without doubt, the understatement of the century!

"I know that I speak on behalf of all my fellow musicians/performers, when I say that without the tremendous work carried out by PPL on our behalf, against opposition, this situation would never have evolved. Thanks to PPL, we can all be assured that true justice has taken place and we will all be eternally grateful.

"Having personally been involved in session work as pianist/md/arranger since 1958, I now don't have to worry that our John Barry Seven, Adam Faith, Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck recordings, amongst others, are jeopardised for at least another 20 years."

Feargal Sharkey (musician): "This is great news! I'd like to thank all the politicians who have stuck at this and finally voted for companies and particularly jobbing musicians for whom the extra twenty years of revenue will mean a great deal. And beyond the important realities of the commercial considerations, it's great that recorded music gets the cultural recognition it deserves bringing those rights more in line with the rights of other areas of the creative arts."