EU extends copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years

“Musicians are set to receive royalties from sales and airplay well into their old age under a new EU ruling,” BBC News reports.

“On Monday, the EU Council voted to extend the copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years,” The Beeb reports. “The move follows a campaign by artists like Cliff Richard as well as lesser-known performers, who said they should continue to earn from their creations.”

“Critics argue that many musicians will see little benefit, with most income going to big stars and record labels,” The Beeb reports. “The change applies to the copyright on studio recordings, which is often owned by record labels, rather than the right to the composition, which is owned by the songwriters.”

“Under the 50-year rule, the copyright on songs by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who would have expired in the next few years. That would have meant that anyone could have used and sold those songs in any way, and the performers and record labels would have ceased to receive royalties,” The Beeb reports. “Rolling Stone Mick Jagger told the BBC that the EU’s decision was ‘obviously advantageous’ to musicians.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Understatement of the year, as Mick and the Stones along with other bands like U2, shuffle their royalties thru tax shelters in the Netherlands so that they pay something like 2% in taxes, instead of whatever their home markets charge their regular citizens.

    1. Sir Cliff Richard, who has outlasted the Beatles, the Stones and every other British act, is around 70 already yet is still selling and occasionally performing. Damned pity he never really cracked the US. Outside the US, he sold more music than Elvis. And his backing band, the Shadows, were just so amazing, words escape me. Every American household would be edified by having some of their stuff on the shelf.

      Brighten your day, listen here and here

  2. imagine every Corporation, Business, TV Station, filmmaker, etc. in Europe could freely use your artwork to sell commercial products in your lifetime. diapers, personal hygiene products, Let’s Spend the Night Together for herpes medicine…

    1. This law has nothing to do with that. What you describe is authorship, and it is protected under entirely different copyright law in UK (as well as elsewhere in the world).

      In UK, original works (be it music, art, written word, etc) are copyrighted for the entire life of the author, PLUS 70 more years after (s)he dies. (see my post below).

  3. If I am not mistaken, this copyright extension pertains only to sound recordings, and NOT to musical works as well.

    Musical Work is a song; royalties for musical works go to the person who wrote music (and/or lyrics).

    Sound Recording is a specific recording of some song. Mechanical royalties go to the band (or record label) who made such recording.

    In other words, for every single recorded piece of music, there are two royalty cheques paid every time such recording is publicly played: one goes to the band that recorded it, the other goes to the composer/lyricist who wrote it.

    This copyright extension only extends copyright to those who recorded songs; not to those who wrote them. Neither the ABBA guys, nor Paul McCartney (or any other composer) were losing ANY money for songs they wrote, and someone else recently recorded. The copyright laws in the UK give them royalties for everything they ever wrote until their death, plus 70 more years after they die, regardless of who records it or performs it publicly.

  4. Bullshit this will help artists in any true sense of the word. This helps only the recording studios (who own the copyrights and pay piddles to the actual artists), and the few big name old-timers who’ve managed to wrest control of their music away from the big labels. The smaller artists way back when? They barely make any money anymore now, when their music is still copyrighted, they sure as hell won’t make any more by extending it.

    Europe is just following the copyright welfare model the US championed with the Bono and other ludicrous copyright extension acts, which violate the social agreement that affords creators LIMITED PERIOD protection by the state so they’d enjoy the fruits of their labour in the short term, but see those works enter public domain after a reasonable time.

    1. As far as copyright of original work is concerned, UK and US have similar protections for INDIVIDUAL authors: lifetime of the author, plus 70 years. However, with the ‘Mickey Mouse Protection Act’ (A.K.A. the Sony Bono Act), works created by a corporation are protected for at least 95 years, and up to 120 years after they are created or published.

      As for recording musicians, UK has just extended their payola for recordings up to 70 years. So, Charlie Watts will continue to get cheques every time someone spins that LP, CD, MP3 (or whatever format future may bring) of ‘Satisfaction’ at a wedding party anywhere in the world until 2035 (he’ll be 94 then), even though he only played on the record. Of course, Jagger and Richards will also collect authorship cheques well into their graves (for 70 years after their death, to be exact).

      1. you are confusing performance copyright (sync rights) and authoring copyright.
        Most music recordings (performance copyright) are owned by labels not by the artists (unless you are so big you don’t really need a label, in which case the label will make a favorable deal (for the artist) simply to retain the works (in house) This is the case with artists like Bono & Mic Jagger) OTOH -most- of the artists get a pittance from the sync rights

        Authoring copyright holders (songwriters and lyricists) normally DO maintain original copyright, however are typically paid a fraction (a very tiny fraction) of the moneys collected for a performance or recording of their song(s) that is (are) sold.

        In short this change benefits studios, labels and uber-susessful artists (ie the fat cats grow fatter).

  5. Most european countries do not recognize copyright (which is only enforced in common law countries), except in the case of foreign records (abiding to the Bern convention). Other than that, copyright is only a matter of law-biding agreements.

    Europe follows the Authors’ right principle, which can only be owned by an individual. And the current right being prolongated here is the right to broadcast and reproduce, which goes as far as 95 years in the US.

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