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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 14:19 GMT
Musician MP makes copyright call
Sir Cliff Richards
Sir Cliff wants musicians to receive royalty payments for longer
An MP who used to play in a Scottish rock band is to call on the government to change copyright laws for musicians.

Pete Wishart, Scottish National Party MP for Perth and North Perthshire, was the keyboard player in Runrig.

During a House of Commons debate, he will call for UK royalty payments for musical performers to be extended beyond the current 50 years.

However, the Royal Society of Arts said it has concerns about any extension of copyright.

Mr Wishart said that extending the copyright would bring musicians into line with other artists, authors and actors.

Performers in the UK currently receive payments for 50 years, at which point their work goes out of copyright.

Copyright period

The British Phonographic Industry has campaigned for parity with the US, which has a 95-year limit.

However, the government-commissioned Gowers Report recommended the protection should not be extended.

Those in favour of extending the copyright period include Sir Cliff Richard, whose debut hit, Move It, would go out of copyright in 2008 under current law.

However, Mr Wishart said the issue was not about stars like Sir Cliff and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.

Pete Wishart
The government must now reconsider its whole approach to the Gowers process and consult further on this report's recommendations
Pete Wishart

"It is about Cliff Richard's percussion player and Robin Gibb's bass player, people who had the once in a lifetime opportunity to appear on a hit record," he said.

"They will now be deprived of the livelihood of that after 50 years. It is that which is wrong.

"That has to be redressed to make sure that musicians get equality and get justice."

He said a petition voicing concern at the Gowers Review had been signed by more than 5,000 UK musicians and artists.

'Seriously compromised'

Mr Wishart claimed that the review could "seriously compromise" the competitiveness of the country's creative sector.

"The government must now reconsider its whole approach to the Gowers process and consult further on this report's recommendations," he said.

Paul Crake, programme director at the Royal Society of Arts, said: "The current framework is skewed too heavily in favour of producer interests.

"Only a small number of recording companies would benefit from an extension in copyright laws.

"Creativity would best flourish if access to existing information, whether it is music or scores, was as unrestricted as possible."

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