Press release

Musicians benefit from extended copyright term for sound recordings

Recorded performers will benefit from an extended length of copyright term for sound recordings and performers rights in sound recordings

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


New rules introduced today (1 November 2013) will see recorded performers and musicians benefit from an extended length of copyright term for sound recordings and performers’ rights in sound recordings - increasing from 50 to 70 years.

The Copyright and Duration of Rights in Performances Regulations 2013 implement EU directive 2011/77/EU into UK law. Recorded performers and musicians will also benefit, after 50 years following publication of the sound recording, from some additional novel and innovative measures including:

  • a ‘session fund’ paying many performers (such as session musicians) 20% of revenues from sales of their recordings

  • a ‘clean slate’ provision, whereby a producer may not make deductions from payments to performers (such as advances of royalties) from publication of a recording

  • a ‘use it or lose it’ clause - which allows performers and musicians to claim back their performance rights in sound recordings if they are not being commercially exploited

The Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger, said:

The new rules bring lasting benefits for our world class recording artists. These changes demonstrate the government’s ongoing commitment to, and support for, our creative industries - who are worth billions to our economy.

Artists who performed on sound recordings will benefit from this extension of copyright protection from 50 to 70 years. The changes should help ensure that musicians are rewarded for their creativity and hard work throughout their careers.

Jo Dipple, Chief Executive, UK Music said:

UK Music welcomes today’s announcement on extending the term of copyright for sound recordings. We are pleased that the government is implementing changes that acknowledge the importance of copyright to performers and record companies. This change will mean creators can rightfully continue to make a living from their intellectual property and works.

The directive also harmonises the length of copyright term for co-written works. The directive was approved by EU member states in September 2011 and the UK government has implemented the directive on time.

Notes to editors

  1. A performer will usually assign their performer’s rights in a sound recording to the producer in return for a single or recurring payment. After 50 years from publication, if the producer is not commercially exploiting a sound recording the performer can give notice to the producer of his intention to claim back the performers’ rights that he assigned to the producer. If after one year, the producer has failed to commercially exploit the recording, the copyright in the recording will expire and the performers` rights in the recording revert back to the performer.
  2. The regulations would allow a performer to only reclaim their own rights in the sound recording. If they chose to exploit the recording for their own commercial benefit (such as sales at gigs or performances) they would still need the permission of the other performers in the sound recording and the owners of any copyright in the music and lyrics.
  3. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
    • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
    • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
    • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
    • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 1 November 2013