Monday or Tuesday this upcoming week there will be another round in the fight against prolonging the copyright protection term for recorded music in the EU. Now is an opportunity to contact MEPs, Members of the European Parliament, and persuade them to vote against the term extension.
Background: In 2009, the EU discussed the issue of a term extension for the ”neighbouring rights” that record companies have to recorded music. These neighbouring rights are now 50 years from the recording of a song. The proposal was to extend them to 95 years. After a lively debate in the European Parliament, it was decided to extend them to 70 years. Then the issue got stuck in the Council of Ministers, where several countries (including Sweden and Denmark) felt that no extension was necessary. Now it appears that the Danish government has folded, which means that there is no longer a blocking minority in the Council.
Right now: On the agenda for the meeting of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee JURI this Monday and Tuesday, there has appeared a point about making certain formal corrections to the text that the European Parliament adopted (such as the date when the new rules should enter into force). It appears that they have been trying to give the issue a low profile. The documents were not sent out to members of the JURI committee until last Friday, after we had explicitly asked for them.
Now we need to raise some attention about this. It would also be useful if Members of the European Parliament (and in particular the ones in the JURI committee) start getting emails from citizens asking them to oppose the term extension.
We are now trying to find out whether it is enough if the changes to the parliament’s position are passed in the JURI committee, or if it will be voted in plenary as well. We will not know for certain until Monday morning.
There are several possibilities here. If the issue is still formally in ”first reading” in the Parliament (after the delay in the Council), there is a chance that we can get either the Green Group of 40 MEPs to demand that the issue is brought up for a renewed proper discussion. Since the European Parliament adopted its position, a new Parliament has been elected. It would be reasonable if we get a chance to have a say on the issue.
There are many questions, loose ends, rules, and possibilities. We who represent the Pirate Party in the European Parliament will be doing what we can. But the issue needs general attention. It would be very good if MEPs start getting mail about the issue. We also need blogs and media to take an interest.
This post is a translation of a blog post in Swedish by Henrik Alexandersson, who is my political assistant in the European Parliament.
Professor Bernt Hugenholtz at the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam (IViR) writes more about the background, and provides links to the many arguments against copyright extension that are well rehearsed and almost universally endorsed by copyright scholars and economists across Europe.
Update: For subsequent developments, see the category Copyright Term Extension