Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Session 2006-07, 16 May 2007


Copyright term for sound recordings should be extended to at least 70 years, to provide reasonable certainty that an artist will be able to derive benefit from a recording throughout his or her lifetime, according to a report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee to be published at 11.00 am on Wednesday 16 May. The Committee concludes that “We have not heard a convincing reason why a composer and his or her heirs should benefit from a term of copyright which extends for lifetime and beyond, but a performer should not”. It finds that the rejection of an extension to copyright term by Andrew Gowers in his Review of Intellectual Property, published in December 2006, failed to take account of the moral right of creators to choose to retain ownership and control of their own intellectual property.

 The conclusion on copyright term is one of many to emerge from a 18-month inquiry into the effects of new technology on creative content. The Committee calls for new measures to help tackle piracy, setting out in statute deterrent levels of damages available in cases where copyright has been infringed, and making it illegal to camcord a film being shown in a cinema. The Committee also concludes that the present statutory exemptions from infringement of copyright are not providing clarity or confidence for users or for the creative industries, particularly in relation to home copying, and it recommends that the Government should draw up a new exemption permitting copying within domestic premises for domestic use (including portable devices such as MP3 players, and vehicles owned or used regularly by the household) but not onward transmission of copied material. 

Noting the role of the internet and of social networking websites in distributing unlicensed creative material, the Committee calls upon internet service providers and internet search-based businesses to do more to discourage piracy and to take more responsibility for dealing with unlicensed material, for instance by establishing a proactive body to examine claims that unlicensed material is being made available.  

The Committee looks at the consequences for broadcasters of the development of new media platforms. It welcomes the agreements reached between producers and broadcasters on terms of trade and new media rights but adds: “we expect that a further review of the terms of trade will become necessary once the value of on-demand services to broadcasters’ funding models becomes clearer”. The Committee also urges Ofcom to remain vigilant in monitoring whether practices used by broadcasters when commissioning programming and driving deals on rights for future transmission are true to the spirit of the Communications Act 2003.

The Committee also considers the BBC’s plans for expansion of its digital services. While concluding that “We have yet to see whether the new arrangements for governance of the BBC will inspire any greater confidence in the commercial sector that the BBC will take account of its privileged position in the market”, the Committee describes the decision by the BBC Trust to suspend BBC Jam - its online education service - as “an encouraging sign of real change”.

Commenting, Committee Chairman, John Whittingdale, said: “The creative industries are already of huge importance to our economy and are going to play an even bigger part in the future. New media offer terrific opportunities for businesses to develop new markets while consumers are already seeing an enormous increase in the choice available, both in the range of content and how they access it. However, there are also challenges to ensure that consumers are protected and that creators continue to receive proper payment for the use of their works. By strengthening the protection of intellectual property and the rights of creators, we can ensure that Britain continues to be one of the world's leading centres for the creative industries.”


1. The title of the Committee report is ‘New media and the creative industries’, HC 509, Fifth Report of the Committee in Session 2006-07.

2. Media Bids/Request for interviews with the Chairman or with Janet Anderson MP should be directed to Laura Humble on 020 7219 2003/07917488489.

3.  For detailed information the Culture Media & Sport Committee can be contacted on 020 7219 6188.

4. Members of the Committee are: Mr John Whittingdale OBE (Chairman) (Conservative), Janet Anderson (Labour), Rosemary McKenna (Labour), Mr Nigel Evans (Conservative), Adam Price (Plaid Cymru), Paul Farrelly (Labour), Mr Adrian Sanders (Liberal Democrat), Mr Mike Hall (Labour), Helen Southworth (Labour), Alan Keen (Labour), Mr Philip Davies (Conservative).