The German music industry has added its voice to the call for an extension to Europe's copyright term on sound recordings.

BERLIN -- The German music industry has added its voice to the call for an extension to Europe's copyright term on sound recordings.

Gerd Gebhardt, chairman of the German Phonographic Industry Assn. (BPW), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Germany and the Phono Academy, is calling for the European term on recordings of music to be increased to 95 years. In most European Union nations, the duration of copyright protection is 50 years after the first release. As a result, recordings from the 1950s are beginning to revert to the public domain.

Until now, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and trade bodies in the United Kingdom and France have led the campaign to extend the term.

Europe's term of copyright for sound recordings is seen as among the most restrictive in the world. In the United States, sound recordings are protected for 95 years; for post-1976 recordings, coverage is the author's life plus 70 years.

Australia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Turkey and India all have implemented substantially longer copyright periods than that in Europe. "Everywhere in the world except in Europe the importance of longer copyright periods has been acknowledged. There is a lot of catching up required here," Gebhardt said.

He added that differences in copyright periods impede new services and skew competitive conditions. "Music recordings which are no longer subject to copyright protection in Germany may still be copyright-protected in other countries, meaning that German productions of such music are classified as pirated in such countries," Gebhardt explained.

The issue is at the top of the IFPI's agenda. The body is pushing the European Commission in Brussels and the European Parliament in Strasbourg to adopt a new copyright legislation that would put Europe on par with most of its counterparts.