The European Parliament's legal affairs committee has approved an extension of copyright term for music recordings from 50 years to 95 years.

Despite fears in the biz that the vote would be lost, the committee has today (Feb. 12) backed the European Commission's proposal to increase the copyright protection to 95 years.

The report, drafted by Irish MEP Brian Cowley, also proposes that performers benefit equally from the term extension. The committee amended the original text to prevent the use of previous contractual agreements to deduct money from the additional royalties.

A dedicated fund for session musicians was also approved by the committee. This fund would be financed by contributions from producers, who would be obliged to set aside at least 20% of the revenues a year gained from the proposed extension of copyright term. A provision was further made for collecting societies to have the right to administer the fund.

The vote has been welcomed in the U.K. biz. Umbrella trade group U.K. Music issued the following statement: "In recommending that the current term of copyright protection for sound recordings is extended to 95 years, the committee has recognised the value of music and the importance of the work of artists, musicians and entrepreneurs, both now and in the future, and that parity with other creators is fair and just."

Any increase from a 50-year term to a 95-year term will ultimately have to be approved by the Council of Ministers. The French and German governments are backing the proposal, while the U.K. government has only recently shifted to supporting a 70-year copyright term for sound recordings. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) declined to comment on today's vote.

The committee also requested that the Commission completes an assessment of any new legislation within three years, to determine whether copyright extension has improved the incomes of performers.

It also requested that the Commission provides an impact assessment of the situation in the European audiovisual sector by January 2010, in order to see if the music proposal should be extended to this sector.

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