Alan McGee, CEO of U.K. independent label Poptones and Creation Management, has become the first high profile executive to break ranks with the music industry and come out in favour of the Gowers Review on intellectual property.

The review created uproar among British rights owners for recommending that the U.K. government retain the 50-year term of protection for sound recordings, despite intense lobbying from the U.K. music industry for the term to be extended.

But on his MySpace blog, McGee says: "The industry's complaints that the current law should be revised for the good of music are entirely wrong."

McGee, who discovered Oasis (Big Brother) and currently manages Dirty Pretty Things (Vertigo Records) and The Charlatans (Creole/Sanctuary), among others, uses the example of the Beatles' first U.K. album ("Please Please Me" in 1963), which-under current legislation-will see its copyright expire in 2013 in the United Kingdom.

He argues that the 50-year period gives The Beatles and rights owners in their works enough time to more than recoup their costs and make vast profits. "They have had 50 years to rake in billions from the Beatles," he adds.

McGee also sees as flawed the industry's reasoning that income from back catalogs is needed to invest in today's acts.

"The notion of the back catalog acting as a crutch to fund new talent seems to imply that more contemporary acts have brought home peanuts. This would be very sad indeed if it were anywhere near the truth."

Although his stance is being supported by the National Consumer Council, which says in its statement that, "current terms of protection already over-protect right holders-and consumers are paying the price," McGee's remains a lone voice from within the industry.

More than 4,500 British recording acts joined forces to take out a full-page advertisement in the Dec. 7 edition of London's Financial Times newspaper, urging the government to support an extension to copyright.

Among the signatories to the advertisement's petition, which was coordinated by the collecting society PPL, are Eric Clapton, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Katie Melua, and Sir Simon Rattle.

"We are the only national organization representing the 40,000 or so British performers and 3,500 British recording companies. There can be no justification in maintaining the glaring discrimination against this particular community as far as the term of copyright protection is concerned," asserts Fran Nevrkla, chairman/CEO of PPL and its sister organization VPL.

IFPI, the recording industry's international trade organization, also rejects the Gowers Review's proposal.

"Equalization of copyright term... goes to the heart of the government's claim to value the British music industry," declared chairman/CEO John Kennedy in a statement. "It is illogical and discriminatory that British artists and producers should enjoy less copyright protection than their counterparts internationally, as well as British composers and songwriters."

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