The new European Parliament has a busy agenda ahead of it in the intellectual-property (IP) sector. The new Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have the task of reviewing and amending the existin

LONDON -- The new European Parliament has a busy agenda ahead of it in the intellectual-property (IP) sector.

The new Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have the task of reviewing and amending the existing five directives concerning IP that were passed in the '90s.

The 786-seat European Parliament was elected June 10-13, and new members now hold more than two-thirds of the seats. MEPs are elected for five years. The Parliament will hold its first plenary session July 20 in Strasbourg, France.

One of the key IP issues for MEPs, according to industry sources, will be a ruling on the Term of Protection Directive, which modernizes a directive of 1993.

Currently, recorded works in the European Union are protected for 50 years from the moment of their first recording. After that, they fall into the public domain. In contrast, publishing rights are protected for 75 years after the death of the owner.

The music industry, through trade body the IFPI, is seeking an extension of the duration of sound recording rights. In the United States, following the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the duration of protection has been extended by 20 years and can reach up to 95 years from first publication. Industry memebers have suggested that the EU harmonize its terms of protection with those of the United States.

MEPs are also expected to review the level of criminal sanctions for pirates and the management of digital rights in the Internet era.

Frances Moore, IFPI regional director for Europe, admits that with the new Parliament, a lot of field work will be needed in order to "re-establish a network of contacts." This is especially true now that the EU counts 25 member states.

"However," she adds, "we are happy to see that many key supporters of intellectual property have been returned, and that is a good starting point." She refers to such MEPs as Ireland's Arlene McCarthy and France's Janelly Fourtou, both extremely active in Strasbourg on IP protection issues.

"The power of the European Parliament continues to grow," says Moore, "which is a good thing for us since we have often relied on MEPs to put legislation affecting the recording industry onto the right track."