Singers face losing copyright battle

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The Independent Culture

The music industry has reacted with alarm to reports that it has lost its battle to extend copyright protection for older performers.

Sir Cliff Richard, Mick Hucknall, Katie Melua and Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull, are among many of the singers to have called for an extension of the limit that expires after 50 years - compared with the 95 years enjoyed by performers in the United States.

The problem is pressing for those who do not write their own material and lose all the income from their back catalogue as they reach pensionable age. The issue is hitting headlines now as the first major rock'n'roll hits of the 1950s are coming out of copyright.

Speculation yesterday suggested that Andrew Gowers, the former Financial Times editor who was asked by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to investigate intellectual property rights, will advise against the extension when his independent report is released next week. The music industry has pointed out that composers and authors already have a 70-year time limit.

Record labels argue it means they are deprived of profits that could be invested in new acts.

Mr Anderson, of Jethro Tull, said: "If this news is true, I want to go on record and express my extreme disappointment. It's a sad day if an industry that has contributed so much culturally and commercially can be treated so dismissively."