European Copyright Clock Ticking On Elvis Hits

Fifty years after it was first released in the United States, Elvis Presley's "That's All Right" is a hit in Great Britain. The single entered the British charts last week at No. 3. But for BMG, the company releasing the track, the celebration might be short-lived. If there are no changes in European copyright law, the track will fall into public domain Jan. 1, 2005. Anyone will be able to release it without paying royalties to the owners of the master or the performer's heirs. BMG will start losing a significant piece of its catalog income in Europe. As "That's All Right" is being hailed by some as the beginning of rock 'n' roll, the implications are that every year after 2005, more recordings that defined the genre will fall into public domain. In the United States, BMG will continue to own the rights to the recording. Under the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, sound recordings are protected for 95 years from the day of recording in the United States -- for post-1976 recordings, coverage is the artist's life plus 70 years. In most of the European Union, the duration is 50 years after the first release of a sound recording. The Elvis case illustrates the importance of the issue for record companies in Europe. It also highlights the discrepancy between Europe and the United States. "I regard this week's anniversary as a wakeup call and a call to arms to step up a gear or two in our campaign to lobby for a similar term in the EU," said Peter Jamieson, executive chairman of British Phonograph Industry, in a recent speech. The EU is reviewing its past directives on intellectual property, notably the EU Term of Protection directive. With this in mind, trade body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry last year asked the European Commission for an extension of Term of Protection for producers and artists with the goal of ending the discrepancy between the United States and the EU. The IFPI has started a campaign to raise awareness among policy makers and legislators on the issue. It targets EU member states, the EC and the Parliament.
Source: Reuters / Updated: Jul 17, 2004 
Elvis Presley on: eBay, iTunes, Amazon, Sheetmusic


sun kat (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2004report abuse
hi everyone, sun kat here. its not really as surprise that the single of thats all right mamma has gone down in the charts, its the same ol story, ie bmg etc relying on word of mouth etc, why cant they promote on the same scale as other modern artists? afterall here in 2004 an "originator" rock n roll is still outselling the present day artists... elvis is a modern ongoing concern, both to us fans and a whole new generation who like my young daughters (9 and 6) know of him! he is a good inv estment by the recored label, so more importantly he deserves full on promotion on the tv and radio and magazines. the only problem i could see. was that to the general public the song was an unknown, although a classic to us and so proves even an unknown can reach high in the charts, so what could a "standard package" do ..i.e a new cd/ep format of classics... imagine say... all shook up, dont be cruel ties in with alt versions... a book type cover with unseen pictures of the the time... 1956, general info to new fans to get their teeth into? lets not forget the old lp covers onto cds but equally lets not stay in the past and make a whole new image of elvis in both cd covers/contents and genral image... keep the faith. the sun kat
EspenK (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2004report abuse
This really is an interesting situation, indeed. Most people (Elvis fans or not) agree that modern music started in the 50s. Before the 50s the releases arent of much (commercial) interest anymore. But within the next ten years we will see music from artists like Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard, James Brown, Tom Jones (just to mention a very few) become public domain too, not only Elvis.
But this may not be a bad thing - not even for the original owners of the works. Anyone can for example create remixes or sample these recordings for use in other productions and revitalize the artists back catalog in ways the original owners of the work were unable to. And the artists themselves are (mostly) retired or passed away.
But if we look just a few years further ahead we can add huge names like David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Bee Gees and Queen to the public domain list, recordings with a huge commercial value today, and some of them are probably still recording artists. It will be interesting to see if the copyright laws are changed before this happends.
Aron (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2004report abuse
doctor, I totally agree with you. As long as there is an acceptable quality/price ratio I don't care how much money people make. And if this ratio is not acceptable I don't buy.
doctor (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2004report abuse
Thank goodness for BMG! If they had not taken over the marketing of Elvis music, I don't know where Elvis' standing would be today with the general public. BMG/Ernst deserve nothing but praise for how they have re-released Elvis on CD and brought the music to a brand new generation. I challenge anyone to tell me that the box sets and compilations of the last ten years have not been absolutely brilliant and worthy of praise. I'm not talking about the odd "regional" or special products releases that come out once in a while. I'm talking about product that has received both critical acclaim and mass market support from fans and the general public. Box sets, ALLC, Rubberneckin, E1, E2, Elvis at Sun. keep up the good work, BMG!
MV (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2004report abuse
Albert,your wrong man.Bmg have done a lot lately which we should be grateful for.I would hate to see classic Elvis Sun recordings available to anyone to put out on cheap shoddy packages.To me it amounts to theft and I really hope it can be stopped.
murthy (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 17, 2004report abuse
I, Totally, Agree with Albert.
Albert (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 17, 2004report abuse
I really don't care for BMG. They have (with RCA) made billions on Elvis behalf, and are still pushing the obvious Love Songs compilations, instead of trying to show the world 'the other Elvis Presley'. I love what they do for the fans with their FTD releases, but hate the way they are still marketing Elvis. And since they perfer the big cash, I don't have any symphaty for their battle to maintain the rights. Musicrights that they have bought in 1974 for just a few million dollars.

Misc.: 10 most recent news items


Recently Added Shop Items