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The Waiting Game March 16, 2009

Posted by Dominic in Uncategorized.
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Sitting in on the vote in the Parliamentary Committee last month was like watching a game without knowing the rules. Now I don’t know what the game is, except it involves waiting.

The European Parliament has voted in committee and will vote in plenary next month. In between, the action moves to the Council of Ministers, where officials from the Member States meet in a working group of technocrats. All this activity takes place below the surface. The meetings are closed and no proceedings are published. Snippets of information may emerge but it is impossible to know precisely what is being discussed.

Will the Council reach agreement on the Copyright Term Directive? Will their version of the legislation match the text voted by the Parliamentary Committee? If not, will the two bodies be able to negotiate a compromise version between them? These are all burning questions, affecting thousands of musicians. If anyone sees any white smoke rising from the inner chambers in Brussels, give me a shout.


One Step Closer to 95 January 21, 2009

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The big debate on the Copyright Term Directive took place in the European Parliament yesterday. MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee discussed the proposal drafted by the European Commission, as well as numerous amendments that have been put forward by MEPs.


The debate was led by Brian Crowley MEP  who is the Rapporteur for this Directive. His role is to steer the legislation through the various Parliamentary procedures so that it can become law. He opened the debate with the clearest explanation of the Directive, its purpose and its benefits to performers.


The main opposition to the Directive came from the Greens who are claiming that this Directive will not help performers. Try saying that to the 38,000 who have signed a petition urging the EU to give us a fair copyright term. It is not surprising that this one Directive will not solve all the issues faced by musicians and the industry, but that is not a reason to deal with this one.


Brian Crowley concluded the debate by dealing with the points raised in the debate and reminding MEPs that the Directive would guarantee the rights of performers on a level with other creators and, for the first time, create a fund for artists to give them additional benefits.

Burnham Leads the Way for Westminster December 11, 2008

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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.