The IFPI and mediocre artists around the world are rubbing their hands in glee, after a proposal to extend copyright in the EU for another 45 years. The proposal, intended to ‘benefit musicians’, comes up for a vote on Wednesday. On the plus side, at the same time collecting societies are going to have their practices scrutinized.
The proposal by Irish EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy, currently serving as European Commissioner for Internal Market & Services, was first proposed back in February. It aims to extend copyright protection for performing artists from 50 years to 95.
The proposal is supposed to secure the pensions of long forgotten artists. In a statement, McCreevy said “I am not talking about featured artists like Cliff Richard or Charles Aznavour. I am talking about the thousands of anonymous session musicians who contributed to sound recordings in the late fifties and sixties. They will no longer get airplay royalties from their recordings. But these royalties are often their sole pension.”
According to the Financial Times, the proposal could come up to vote as early as this Wednesday, July 16th. Also up for discussion would be a plan to split up rights societies by the antitrust arm of the commission, potentially making rights societies compete against each other for the rights to collect royalties from artists.
While this would certainly be a better way to curb their less than philanthropic actions, if it comes at the cost of greater copyright, is it that beneficial to the 500 million citizens of Europe? There is a glimmer of hope though. Two commissioners are opposed to the extension plan; telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding and commissioner Antonio Tajan.
The copyright extension plans met initial scorn back when they were first announced in February, with groups like the Open Rights Group and the EFF launching a petition to have it blocked, as well as a website to deal with the issue. Nevertheless, McCreevy kept on going, and the proposal is now ready to be voted on.
McCreevy himself has his pension already planned from a former partnership in a chartered accountancy firm (and he has been in politics since 1977, so he clearly planned early). It is left to wonder then why he feels the need to legislate some sort of speciality pension for artists. If they decide to stop work at 25, why should they be paid for it past 75? If that has been their only source of income, why could they not have done as the hundreds of millions of other EU citizens, myself included, and planned for their retirement?
Commissioner McCreevy had not replied to a request for comment at the time of publication.