The European Union is planning to extend the ownership rights for performers of recorded music from 50 years to 95 years.
EU internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy said that the extension is designed to bring the EU more in line with US copyright law.
The Gowers Report, commissioned last year by the UK government, found no compelling reason for such an extension, but McCreevy, who was lobbied heavily by the music industry, disagreed.
"I have not seen a convincing reason why a composer of music should benefit from a term of copyright that extends to the composer's life and 70 years beyond, while the performer should enjoy 50 years, often not even covering his lifetime," he said.
Record companies are understandably enthusiastic about the proposals, since it offers even greater control over music already on their back catalogues.
"We welcome today's proposals by Commissioner McCreevy," said EMI chairman Guy Hands.
"These measures are excellent news for thousands of artists, many of whom rely on income from sound recordings for their long-term financial security.
"EMI has long believed that the significant imbalance in the protection provided to performers compared to composers is unjustified and unfair. Like composers, artists should enjoy recognition for their work throughout their lives."
Under the plans record companies would pay funds into a central repository to pay session musicians who played on the original tracks.
"This is great news for thousands of musicians and we are especially delighted that the Commission has acted to benefit session musicians in particular through the creation of a bespoke fund," said John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians' Union.
"While all recording artists will gain from increasing the term of copyright protection for performers, the countless number of session musicians who have contributed so significantly to the musical heritage of Europe will greet this recognition with particular delight and relief."
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