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Term of protection for sound recordings and performers' rights

This is set at 70 years from the end of the year in which the recording is published and is harmonised throughout Europe. In September 2011 the European Union approved a directive External Link which extended copyright term in most cases for sound recordings and performers' rights in sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. The Directive was implemented into UK law on 1 November 2013 by the Copyright and Duration of Rights in Performances Regulations 2013**.The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 was further amended by the Copyright and Duration of Rights in Performance (Amendment) Regulations 2014 External Link which came into force on 6 April 2014.

Additional measures in the Directive also implemented by the Regulations include:

  • that record producers set aside 20% of all revenues from the sales of sound recordings for a fund for session artists;
  • that if a record label is not commercially releasing a track that is over 50 years old, then the performers can request that the rights in the performance revert to them - a 'use it or lose it' clause
  • a 'clean slate' provision that prevents the producer from deducting advance payments from royalties after 50 years;
  • alignment of the term of protection for the music and lyrics in a musical composition.

The IPO published a User's Guide to the Directive PDF document(526Kb).

** The extension of the term of protection applies only to those sound recordings that were in copyright on 1 November 2013 and to any sound recordings made after that date. The Regulations do not have the effect of bringing back into copyright those sound recordings where copyright has expired.