U.K. industry bodies the BPI, AIM and Musicians' Union have joined with labels' and performers' licensing organization PPL in welcoming a European Parliament vote in favor of extending the term for copyright on sound recordings from 50 years to 70 years.

MEPs in Strasbourg today (April 23) backed Irish MEP Brian Crowley's report for the committee on legal affairs, with 377 votes in favor, 178 against and 37 abstentions, although EU governments will ultimately have to approve the change in the law in the European Council.

"Today's supporting vote in the European Parliament recognises fairness and the benefit copyright term extension will bring to artists, producers, performers and music companies," said the joint statement from the BPI, AIM, the Musicians' Union and PPL. "We welcome the vote and urge the EU member states in the Council to follow Parliament's lead and support the proposal."

The U.K. government has backed the 70 years proposal, after originally coming out against the European Commission's plan for a 95-year term.

"We are pleased to see that the Parliament supports the view that performers should receive protection during their lifetime, and that this is achieved with the 70 year term," said a spokesperson for the U.K. governement's Intellectual Property Office.

However, a vote of the European Council went against the directive on April 14, the second time it had stalled. There have been issues surrounding the session fund measure, for which record companies would set aside part of the additional revenues for performers, and the clean slate proposal to prevent the use of previous contractual agreements by labels to deduct money from the additional royalties.

Crowley said the compromise reached by the Parliament on 70 years would facilitate an agreement with national governments.

The dedicated fund for session musicians was backed by the Parliament and MEPs amended a provision relating to this fund to give collecting societies the right to administer the annual supplementary remuneration.

MEPs also looked at the clean slate measure and amended the original text to prevent the use of previous contractual agreements to deduct money from the additional royalties, to ensure that performers receive the full benefits of copyright extension. And on the so-called 'use-it-or-lose-it' clause, the Parliament stated that if producers do not make a recording available to the public after 50 years, performers could ask to terminate the contract they signed to transfer their rights to the label. The rights will expire in a year if the recording is not made available.

The Parliament also wants the European Commission to launch an impact assessment of the situation by January 2010, with a view to deciding whether a similar copyright extension would benefit the audiovisual sector. And after three years of the legislation taking effect, it wants an assessment of its application to the digital market.

"As a musician, I am grateful to all the MEPs who have today voted to give us a fair copyright term," said musician Phil Pickett of Culture Club and Sailor in a statement. "It cannot be right that we lose our recordings, while others continue to profit from them. Now we look to the ministers from the various member states to show their support for musicians and for our European cultural heritage."

The copyright extension will apply to new recordings as well as existing recordings that are not yet out of copyright.