Sign our petition

Dear Tessa Jowell MP,

Earlier this year the music industry started campaigning to persuade you to extend the term of copyright protection for sound recordings. They want to see the current 50 year term extended to life plus 70 years, just as in copyright for compositions.

The music industry says that they are simply looking after musicians, yet the copyright in many of these recordings is not held by the musician, but by the label. Record labels aren’t a charity; they aren’t giving anything to musicians that isn’t already in their contract. Instead, they are driven by a desire to retain control over a small number of profitable recordings in order to maximise profits.

Term extension is not just about the ulterior motives of a powerful industry group. When artists produced works 50 years ago, they did so knowing exactly how many years of exclusive rights they would gain. And they signed those rights away to record labels knowing that they would expire in 50 years.

Copyright has always been a bargain between the interests of the rights holder and the interests of the public. A retroactive extension of the term would do nothing more than provide a windfall to the rightsholders - not necessarily the musicians, remember - and would deny the public the benefit of their side of that bargain.

If you decide to extend copyright on existing recordings, you will destroy our musical and sound recording heritage. If you extend copyright on new recordings, you will deny our children access to that heritage, but without having any significant positive impact on artists who are recording today.

Term extension would:

  • Starve the public domain, stopping people from reusing, remixing and mashing up old recordings
  • Stop performers and composers from re-releasing their own public domain out-of-print works
  • Stop businesses from conserving and re-releasing old material
  • Give the major labels more power over our musical culture
  • Stifle innovation in the distribution of recorded music

We believe that any extension to the term of copyright protection for sound recordings would be highly damaging to artists and the public good. We hereby request that you publicly reject all demands from all parties for any extension, retrospective or prospective, to the term of copyright protection for sound recordings.


The Undersigned

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