The recently formed Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) has given its backing to the U.K. government's decision to vote against the EU proposal on term extension for copyright in sound recordings.

While other music industry bodies voiced their disapproval of the U.K. 'no' vote, the FAC has sided with the government. It voted against the proposal at the committee of permanent representatives (COREPER) in Brussels on Friday (March 27) because the "current text did not yet give sufficient benefit for performers," according to a statement. Other countries also voted against; the Czech presidency confirmed it would continue to work on the proposal to prepare a second reading for possible agreement at later stage.

"The Featured Artists Coalition commends the British government for recognizing that the proposed extension of copyright term in recorded music does not deliver real lasting benefits for artists or consumers," said an FAC statement.

The FAC was formed to give artists a collective voice to campaign for effective laws and regulations, as well as transparent and equitable business practices. The board includes Radiohead's Ed O'Brien, pop artist Kate Nash, singer songwriter Billy Bragg and David Rowntree, drummer with U.K. rock act Blur.

The statement added: "The FAC supports the principle of extending copyright beyond the current term. However, we believe that all rights in recordings should revert to the artist after 50 years. While the record companies would lose nothing, as they only expected to own the copyright for the current 50-year term, both artists and consumers stand to gain from this proposal.

"Owning our rights would enable artists to negotiate new deals with record labels and other users of music that would reflect the true costs of digital distribution. We would also be able to decide when our music can be used for free and when we should expect remuneration."

It added that major labels had failed to fully exploit catalogs digitally, and that returning rights to artists would enable that to happen.

It is understood there was a compromise proposal for increasing copyright term from 50 to 70 years - in line with the U.K. position - rather than the 95 years proposed by the European Commission.

However, there were also 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. The U.K. government was said to be concerned that, as it stood, the directive would only cover recordings that were in existence at the time it was made law, creating uncertainty on performers' rights over future recordings.

"The FAC supports the proposal made by the U.K. government last Friday, whereby 20% of the revenue rights holders receive in the extended term is to be placed into a fund for our fellow performers - the session musicians who play on our records," added the FAC statement. "The FAC sees this approach as being in the best interest of both featured performers and session musicians.

"We recognize that there is a willingness among EU members to find a compromise on term extension that will benefit both artists and consumers. We call upon our fellow artists in EU member states to lobby their legislators in favour of 100% reversion of rights in recorded music to artists after 50 years. We ask the British government to continue to take the lead on this issue by supporting the right of artists to own their own work at the end of the current period of copyright term."

Billy Bragg also questioned whether or not U.K. industry trade body the BPI "represents the best interests of artists on this issue," following its statement expressing disappointment with the government.

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