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Cliff challenges EU rock'n'roll 'swindle'

By Adam Sherwin, Media Reporter

IT IS the greatest pension fund raid of all time. The stars who created rock’n’roll are about to lose the rights over the classic hits that made them famous. From January 1, 2005, anyone will be able to release landmark rock’n’roll recordings such as Elvis Presley’s That’s All Right without paying a penny in royalties to the performer or their estates. But the rockers are fighting back.

Sir Cliff Richard is launching a campaign to close a loophole in European Union law, which means that artists and record companies lose exclusive rights to their sound recordings after 50 years. If he and others are unsuccessful, the ruling will mean that the rock’n’roll years will become a free-for-all, wiping billions of pounds off the value of record companies.

Releases will fall into the public domain, year-by-year, with the Beatles’ catalogue becoming available from 2013. Recordings can be digitally manipulated or used in films and advertisements with the artist having no say over their repertoire.

Sir Cliff, whose 1958 Move It single is cited as the first authentic British “rock” hit, told The Times: “As I get older I am told that I have achieved many chart ‘firsts’. Now I am the first person to be deprived of income simply because I have outlived the copyright on my sound recordings.” The most successful singles artist in British chart history, Sir Cliff, 63, said that he was leading a fight for music’s unsung heroes.

“I am very fortunate because I continue to earn money,” said the singer, who last night secured his 59th top ten album with Something’s Goin’ On. “But what about the Shadows or the families of Tommy Steele, Adam Faith or Lonnie Donegan? Many artists rely on one hit record as their sole source of income, but now they will earn nothing. I feel a responsibility to speak out for them.”

Sir Cliff, who is well known for his Christian beliefs, added: “I am told that my recordings could even be used in pornographic films and there’s not a thing I could do about it. I will have no control over how my music is used. I believe performers must be entitled to their dignity.” The British Phonographic Industry and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry is lobbying the European Commission for an extension of the copyright term. The bodies want the EU Term of Protection directive to be brought in line with the United States which has copyright on sound recordings to 95 years.

Composers and writers in Britain continue to enjoy protection for 70 years after their death. Singers, such as Sir Cliff, who interpret other people’s songs are at a particular disadvantage. He has delivered his own submission to a review of EU copyright legislation initiated by Frits Bolkestein, the outgoing Internal Markets Commissioner. Introducing himself as “an active and successful recording artist and performer” who has recorded 1,000 songs, he argues: “Surely the creativity of the artists whose performances breathe life into the authors’ works is worthy of recognition for at least the same period?”

The Elvis Presley industry, which was worth £21.8 million from Graceland admissions alone last year, will be the first to suffer. That’s All Right and Blue Moon, his revolutionary 1954 recordings, are the first to enter the public domain, with Love Me Tender and Heartbreak Hotel to follow soon. Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock and Shake, Rattle and Roll, are also available from January. Those who believe that music should be “free” argue that the 50-year rule allows public access to songs that record companies and artists have enjoyed ample opportunity to exploit. But the BPI said that new bands will miss out as record companies lose control over their back catalogue. A spokesman said: “Labels rely on income from past hits to invest in new talent”.


1492: William Caxton introduces the printing press into England 1557 Queen Mary I hands all printing and bookselling to one guild, the Stationer’s Company 1709 Statute of Queen Anne is first copyright law in the world 1833 Dramatic Copyright Act gives limited performing rights protection in dramatic works 1842 Literary Copyright Act grants authors lifetime property rights in their work and protects stage plays if performed 1887 The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works gives first international protection for works including: novels, short stories, poems, plays, songs, operas, symphonies, musicals, drawings, paintings, sculptures and architectural works 1911 Parliament gives record companies protection on sound recordings for 50 years to reproduce work “by means of mechanical contrivances, such as gramophone records and perforated piano rolls” 1961 Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations gives Europe-wide protection against recorded music piracy 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act harmonises UK with EU countries, but maintains 50-year sound recordings limit 1998 The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is enacted in the US to combat threat of Napster and internet pirates. Criticised for being immediately obsolete Music Business Journal


January 1, 2005 Elvis Presley — That’s All Right, Blue Moon, Blue Moon of Kentucky Bill Haley and his Comets — Shake, Rattle and Roll, Rock Around The Clock Ray Charles — I Got a Woman

2006 Chuck Berry — Maybellene Bo Diddley — Bo Diddley Fats Domino — Ain’t That a Shame

2007 Little Richard — Tutti Frutti Elvis — Heartbreak Hotel Chuck Berry — Roll Over Beethoven James Brown — Please, Please, Please Carl Perkins — Blue Suede Shoes Johnny Cash — I Walk The Line Lonnie Donegan — Rock Island Line

2008 Cliff Richard — Move It Buddy Holly — That’ll Be The Day Everly Brothers — Bye Bye Love Jerry Lee Lewis — Whole Lotta Shakin’ Sam Cooke — You Send Me

2009 Eddie Cochran — Summertime Blues - Dion & The Belmonts — I Wonder Why Bobby Freeman — Do You Wanna Dance?

2010 Ben E. King — Stand By Me

2013 The Beatles — Love Me Do Bob Dylan — Blowin’ In The Wind

2014 The Rolling Stones — Come On/I Wanna Be Your Man The Beach Boys — Surfin’ USA

2016 The Who — My Generation ; The Beatles — Yesterday

(Spotlight/Article, Source The Times)






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