The term of copyright issue reached a climax last Tuesday when the British government announced it would ignore the music industry's campaign for an extension, and sided instead with the Gowers Review on intellectual property.
Gowers' Treasury-commissioned report, published last December, recommended that the government stick with the existing 50-year term of copyright on sound recordings.
The U.K. industry had long rallied for the term to be extended beyond 70 years. And the campaign found friends in high places, including member of parliament John Whittingdale who, as chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, threw support behind a term extension.
Billboard.biz global news editor Lars Brandle spoke with Whittingdale following the government's term of copyright announcement.
John, were you surprised by the conclusions reached by the government?
No, it wasn't a surprise. I'd asked questions to (until recently minister for creative industries and tourism) Shaun Woodward in the chamber a few weeks ago, and he indicated that the government remained unconvinced with the case.
Did you feel the government's comments were justified?
Obviously we're disappointed. In particular, because of research done by the industry, which has cast some doubt about the economic analysis conducted by Gowers, which I had hoped would cause the government to think again. Our view was that, while there was a debate about the economic benefits, there was also an overwhelming moral case as to why creators should be entitled to benefit from their works.
What would you like to see happen next in the campaign?
It's for the industry to continue making the case, and having talked with them I know that's what they intend to do.
I think they have already demonstrated that there is quite a strong body of opinion in the House of Commons, which shares their view. They have to persuade ministers. A new ministerial team has just arrived. And they need to go on trying to persuade them.
Does the Select Committee still have a role to play on this topic?
We've added our voice. There's not much more we can do then beyond indicating that the Select Committee was unanimous in its view that there should be an extension of term. And if an occasion arises we will continue to go on making that case. It's back to the industry to go on lobbying. There's not a lot more you can do.
Where should the U.K. industry take up the fight?
The industry is trying to make the case in Europe, and ultimately, that is where any decision is taken, so it is sensible to do so. But one would have to say the task of persuading the commission of the European members states to back the change will be much more difficult if the U.K. government doesn't support it. They need to continue to try and persuade ministers.
For more coverage on the term of copyright subject, look to the current issue of Billboard.