Copyright update: “use it or lose it”

On 1 November 2013, the term of copyright protection for sound recordings and performers’ rights changed.

Copyright protection in sound recordings lasts for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the recording is made. However, as of the 1 November this year, if a sound recording has been published or made available to the public within that 50 year period, the copyright term is extended from 50 to 70 years from the first publication date, or if not published, the date it was first communicated to the public (i.e. on the radio). The duration of performers’ rights in a sound recording has also been extended from 50 to 70 years from the release date.

If by the end of the initial 50 year period, a producer has not released a sound recording in sufficient quantities to meet demand or made it available online, the performer can demand the exploitation of the recording. Where the producer fails to exploit the recording in the 12 month notice period, any agreement for the reproduction, distribution and making available of the sound recordings terminates and the producer’s copyright in the sound recording expires. 

Further to this, after the end of the initial 50 year period producers must set aside 20% of all gross revenue from the sales of recordings for session musicians. This “Session Fund” is distributed annually by the collection society, PPL.

Copyright: Co-authorship

Prior to the 1 November 2013, copyright protection, where the music and lyrics were written by different people, usually expired at different times, depending on the dates of death of the composer and writer. Copyright protection would expire 70 years from the death of the composer in respect of music and 70 years from the death of the writer in respect of lyrics.

Now, as of 1 November 2013, where the music and lyrics of a song are composed and written by different people but are to be used together, the term of the copyright in each will expire simultaneously, 70 years after the death of the last surviving composer or writer.

The new regulations apply to works of co-authorship created after 1 November 2013 and works of co-authorship where either the music or lyrics of the song were in copyright as the 1 November 2013 or both.

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