|The eventual duration of|
copyright in sound recordings?
"Two years ago, on 23 April 2009, the last European Parliament voted in first reading for a proposed Directive, extending the term of copyright for sound recordings from currently 50 to 70 years. The Directive was then blocked on the Council of the European Union by a coalition of Benelux, and some Scandinavian and East European countries that took note of the empirical evidence mustered by independent academics from across Europe.
Since 2009, the world has changed. A new European Parliament and Commission are in place, and the focus of recent copyright initiatives has been on the opportunities offered by digitisation for cultural, social and commercial innovation. As Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda said in speech at Avignon on 5 November 2010:
Further developments will be posted here, as they unfold, tomorrow.“Instead of a dysfunctional [copyright] system based on a series of cultural Berlin walls, I want a return to sense. A system where there is scope to create new opportunities for artists and creators, and new business models that better fit the digital age. We want to help you seize the opportunities of this age.“So why has the Copyright Term Extension Directive suddenly re-appeared on the Agenda of the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI), as a late addendum (at no. 31, and as of Monday 11 April, not on the website of the JURI committee)? [link here to Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström]
Music industry lobbyists have succeeded in overturning Danish and Czech opposition, picking off key members of parliament in these countries. The Danish government has now notified the Commission that it supports term extension, breaking the blocking minority on the Council. See press release of 24 February.
Prompted by the Internal Market Directorate of the Commission, the current Hungarian presidency of the European Union is now looking to fast track this stale piece of legislation through Parliament while preparing the Council for a vote before the end of its presidency in June.
The Directors of four leading European intellectual property research institutes have just written an open letter in order to raise attention of this matter. It is still possible that the European Parliament will ask for a proper second reading of the text, or that other countries on the Council will reform a blocking minority (including the UK which is currently reviewing her intellectual property laws for their contribution to innovation and growth: Hargreaves Review, due to report at the end of April)".
As a relatively keen observer of IP developments, I'm not often taken by surprise -- but this certainly caught me out. I'm also unaware of any new evidence having been unearthed in order to present a stronger case for extension than that which was previously rejected. Has there been any? Can anyone tell me?
Thanks are due to Martin Kretschmer and Mike Lynd (Marks & Clerk) for keeping me informed.