Copyright law, U.K. law, performer's rights, sound recordings, digital age, European Union


This paper argues that the European Union should not, as it currently proposes, extend the term of protection for sound recordings in Europe. It compares the U.K. government’s current policy that the scope and length of copyright protection for sound recordings should not be extended, with that of the European Union which, encouraged by the French government particularly, has recently proposed an extension from the fifty-year term to a ninety-five-year term of copyright protection for sound recordings. It analyzes several major independent reviews of the evidence on extending copyright protection for sound recordings, including the findings and recommendations of the December 2006 Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, an independent study commissioned by the U.K government, the University of Amsterdam Institute for Information Law report for the European Commission on the harmonization of copyright and related rights protections in Europe, and subsequent government consultation and strategy documents on proposed changes to U.K. law. It also reviews the positions taken by other stakeholders, including the music industry, academics and the media, in this debate, and analyzes the likely direction of the law in Europe.