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Burnham Leads the Way for Westminster December 11, 2008

Posted by Dominic in Uncategorized.
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Today was a red letter day for musicians. The UK Government finally announced their support for a fair copyright term for performers and producers. Sitting in the ICA, overlooking St James’ Park, I knew what Andy Burnham was going to say, but it still had a sense of occasion. This was the culmination of years of pressure from musicians and from the industry. When the Gowers Review recommended against extending copyright term, many thought that was the last word on the subject. Today’s announcement goes to show that it is worth persevering for something that matters.
And what finally clinched it? It was the video message from musicians. For the first time, politicians were face to face with the people most affected by losing their royalties on their recordings. No longer could they pretend that this was all about the superstars, or the record companies or that the sums were so small that they didn’t matter. No. This was a heartfelt plea from the musicians who could see their income from their work drying up, while others would be able to reap the rewards that should be due to them.
Now, always read the small print. True, the Government has finally accepted the principle that copyright term should be extended. But they are talking about a term of copyright that would still leave musicians short-changed in relation to composers and graphic artists. We’ll have to keep on explaining that 95 years is the right level for putting performers on a par with their fellow creators. It is no accident that the draft Copyright Term Directive sets 95 years, matching the norm in the USA. If the UK Government wants to show support for musicians, then they should apply the principle of fairness and vote for 95 years.
That said, thank you, Andy, for listening and doing the right thing. Now we just have to get Europe to vote for the new legislation.

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