updated 01:30 pm EST, Thu February 14, 2008
EU 95yr Copyright and Levy
The European Union should almost double the length of music copyrights and to reform media levies, EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy argues. The official contends that many musicians, particularly older artists, are in danger of losing a reliable source of income and proposes the measures as a protective option. The current 50-year limit on copyright in particular needs to be extended to 95 years, McCreevy suggests. Without the safeguard in place, both regular band members and session performers could find themselves without guaranteed royalties, which often serve as retirement income.
Critics have frequently opposed extended copyright by claiming that it reduces the creative liberties to cover or sample old songs. Many also believe that very long copyright periods often protect a work well past the lifespans of most artists.
McCreevy adds, however, that he is willing to reform media levies across the continent, which charge buyers in most European nations an additional fee for devices that can be used for legal copies of songs, such as writable CDs, hard drives, and portable media players. While unlikely to cancel the fees altogether, the EU statesman hopes to reexamine the current scope of the law and potentially reduce or eliminate fees for more general-purpose devices, many of which face the fee but are not primarily intended for music.
In affected European countries, the fees often apply to media-capable phones or to printers with storage and add between €2.56 ($3.74) and €10 ($14.6) to a device such as an 8GB iPod nano depending on the country. The extra charges have often spurred electronics makers in these regions to ask for a reduction or complete elimination of the fees, which can contribute significantly to the price of many electronics devices.
McCreevy has not offered a timetable for any changes to EU law, but promises to write legislation soon.