On the 12th of September the European Parliament and Council approved the directive to extend the term of copyright for performers from 50 years to 70 years

Previously, if a performer was either a session musician or a featured artist on a sound recording, and was entitled to income from the PPCA (or the Australian equivalent in the UK - the PPL), those royalties would cease after 50 years, as would copyright in sound recordings owned or controlled by the artist/ producer/ record company

The EU has now extended this copyright protection period for a further 20 years, and added a number of additional measures which, according to the EU press release, benefit performers and give them more control over their work. These measures include: requiring record companies to pay a 20% slice of the income they earn from the extension to those performers who sold their rights to a record label for a one-off flat fee; "a use it or lose it" clause requiring labels to give rights in the sound recording back to the original author if they do not market the sound recording during the extended period; and finally, a "clean slate" provision prohibiting producers from reducing royalties owed to featured performers during the 20 year extension period

This brings Europe in line with Australia, where sound recordings enjoy 70 years of copyright protection following their release. It still falls short of the 95 years of protection enjoyed by owners of sound recordings in the US. Opinion is divided as to whether this extension will give a practical benefit to ageing rockers facing an income gap at the end of their lives. Some argue that this will simply mean the major labels enjoy income from sound recordings for longer, whilst others believe this is a win for the recording industry at large. Either way, it's a timely reminder to make sure your housekeeping is in order when it comes to the exploitation of master recordings in which you own copyright

For those of you who are copyright owners of master recordings in Australia, this extension serves as a timely reminder to ensure your house-keeping is in order. As a copyright owner in master recordings you should join the PPCA to participate in the PPCA's licence scheme income. Also, if you are a featured Artist on a copyright recording that has been released in Australia, you should register with the PPCA so as to access your 50% share of PPCA royalties allocated to your tracks. If you have not registered as an Artist, 100% of the PPCA royalties will go to the label (presuming you're signed)

If you have any questions relating to your master recordings, songs or require general music law advice, contact Rob Glass at Simpsons Solicitors

Rob Glass is a music lawyer at Simpsons Solicitors. He assists musicians working in all aspects of the record industry, from negotiating publishing and record contracts with both indie and major labels, through to settling band disputes and solving copyright cross licensing issues. He has worked with both developing and established talent from all over Australia.