UK Government backs down over removal of copyright protection for unpublished works

Music Copyright

The UK Government has halted a proposed move that would see law protecting the copyright of certain unpublished sound recordings up to the year 2039.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act protects copyright in unpublished recordings from 1957 – 1989 for the period up to 2039, at which point the works fall into the public domain.

All recordings from 1989 have 50 years of protection as unpublished works.

In a report on the matter, the Government suggested, “This is a problem for museums, libraries and archives, and the general public, who may wish to make use of these works, which due to their antiquity and unpublished nature are often of cultural or historical interest.

The Government had proposed removing the rule, meaning that all unpublished sound recordings that were more than 50 years old would immediately fall into the public domain and others would follow 50 years after recording.

However, after consulting a number of groups representing copyright holders, including the BPI and UK Music, the Government has chosen not to go ahead with the proposals at this time.

A respondent for Music Week in the Government’s consultation noted that the biggest selling album of the week of November 10 2014 was “The Endless River” by Pink Floyd, which sold 139,351 copies. The album consisted solely of outtakes from previous recording sessions for an album released 20 years ago.

Although this particular work would not have been subject to the 2039 rule, it is a useful example of the commercial demand that exists for previously unpublished sound recordings,” said a report following the consultation.

Although the Government remains strongly of the view that steps need to be undertaken to enable the use of historically and culturally important works subject to the 2039 rule, it does not believe that legislation should be made without further consideration of the issues raised during the consultation,” the report concluded.

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music said, “Rights holders for sound recordings and musical works will be reassured by Government’s response to this consultation. UK Music provided evidence demonstrating the economic reasons not to change the law. At least in this case, common sense prevails and Govt has listened to us.

Source : [Music Week]