(CN) – European music artists applauded a continentwide directive that extends copyrights on their recordings from 50 to 70 years.
“The extension of the term of protection for performers now adopted means that artists in Europe will receive a fairer treatment and be assured of a steady income for their performances during their entire lifetime,” the European Commission said in a statement.
Anonymous session musicians who contribute to sound recordings but may never attain widespread name recognition will see the greatest impact from this directive, which also slightly narrows the gap between copyright protection for authors and performers. Authors currently maintain rights to their work for life plus 70 years.
Record companies are now directed to set aside a “session fund,” representing 20 percent of sales income, for distribution to artists whose copyrights were bought with a single lump payment before the directive passed.
The directive’s “clean slate” provision also requires producers to continue paying artists at the same rate during the 20-year extension.
Finally, a “use-it-or-lose-it” provision allows artists to recoup rights to their music if a record company fails to market their recording.
Copyright holders are paid each time their work is played on the air or in public places. According to European Commission data, falling music sales – down 30 percent in the past five years – have increased the importance of such payments, which account for 57 percent of the income for copyright collectives.
“Most performers start their career in their early 20’s or even before,” the commission explained. “Average life expectancy in the EU today stands at 76.4 years for men and 82.4 years for women. This means that a performer who lives well into his 80s would not be able to enjoy the benefits of his creation because the term of protection would have already run out at the most vulnerable period of his life.”
The change also brings Europe closer to the United States, where recording copyrights have 95-year terms.
European Union member states have two years to bring their national laws into compliance with the directive.