The British record industry's battle for extended copyright protection on sound recordings is heading for a defeat, according to unconfirmed media reports.

The British record industry's battle for extended copyright protection on sound recordings is heading for a defeat, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Ahead of the publication of the Gowers review -- due around the chancellor's Dec. 6 pre-budget report -- media observers are speculating that the document will stick with Britain's existing copyright laws.

The review, conducted by Richard Gowers, former editor of the Financial Times, is an independent re-examination of the U.K.'s intellectual property legislation. It is expected to analyse various areas of intellectual property, from duration of copyright and the barriers small businesses face in protecting and exploiting their work. Gowers is also expected to formally approve the practice of consumers copying their CD libraries to iPod-type digital players.

Across the European Union, the term of copyright protection for sound recordings expires 50 years after the first release of a sound recording. A change in the duration of copyright requires a ruling from the European Commission. Industry experts believe that an extension of the terms has more chances to be passed if major EU countries such as the United Kingdom come out in favor of the changes.

British Phonographic Industry has been lobbying the U.K. government to support an extension of the term of copyright from 50 to 95 years. In a statement issued today, BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said: "The BPI has not yet seen the Gowers report, but if the media leaks are correct it would appear that the Gowers Review has missed a great opportunity to support the U.K.'s music industry."

However, he added: "it is really the responses of the Treasury, DTI [Dept. Of Trade and Industry] and DCMS [Dept. Of Culture, Media & Sport] and not the recommendations of an independent report, that we are most interested in. It's in the government's power to ignore such a recommendation, and they should do so.

Supporters of the campaign to extend copyright were surprised by the apparent leak. Fran Nevrkla, chairman and CEO of PPL and VPL said, "If newspaper reports are accurate then Andrew Gowers has got things very wrong. I sincerely hope this government will have the moral fibre and courage to support talent, creativity, investment and success and will not duck this critical issue by conveniently hiding behind academics and other 'thinkers', many of whom wish to see copyright downgraded if not destroyed."

IFPI chairman/CEO John Kennedy pointed out that the report "is only a recommendation, and it is the government which will make the final decision."

Gowers' thorough review into intellectual property rights was launched Dec. 2, 2005 by chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown, the U.K.'s chief finance minister.

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