Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Copyright law 'could be extended'

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham says he wants what is best for the artists

Culture minister Andy Burnham has said the government has changed its mind on allowing performers to make money from their music for 70 years.

Performers currently lose the copyright to their recordings after 50 years.

"It's only right that someone who created or contributed to something of real value gets to benefit for the full course of their life," he said.

Sir Cliff Richard and Roger Daltrey were among those who have campaigned for copyright to be extended.

'Encourages innovation'

Sir Cliff's earliest hits will go out of copyright on 1 January next year, while The Beatles' catalogue will start to enter the public domain in 2013.

Sir Paul McCartney and U2 have also spoken out in favour of extending the copyright.

Under current laws, the copyright is about to expire on Sir Cliff's earliest hits, like his 1958 breakthrough song, Move It.

We must ensure that any extension delivers maximum benefit to performers and musicians. That's the test of any model as we go forward
Andy Burnham

In July, the European Union proposed artists should receive money for the rest of their lives.

Mr Burnham said the government had been considering extending the law to match more closely a performer's expected lifetime.

Speaking to the UK Music Creators' Conference in London, Mr Burnham said: "There is a moral case for performers benefiting from their work throughout their entire lifetime.

"We must ensure that any extension delivers maximum benefit to performers and musicians. That's the test of any model as we go forward."

Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, said he was "delighted" the government was considering the extension.

He said: "Copyright stimulates investment in musical talent and encourages innovation.

"Thousands of recording artists, hundreds of music companies and all British music fans will benefit from a fairer copyright term."

However, intellectual property solicitor Gregor Grant, of law law firm Marks & Clerk, said: "Any victory will be felt by big-name artists who tend to benefit the most from royalty fees.

"For the contribution they make to UK music, they are already more than adequately protected. The real innovation - the creation of musical content and lyrics - is already protected for the lifetime of the composer and a further 70 years."

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