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Cliff Richard asks for copyright validity extension

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

London (Reuters): Veteran British rocker Cliff Richard has called for a change to Britain's music copyright laws to extend the protection for artists beyond the current 50-year limit. The performer of such hits as Living Doll, Bachelor Boy and Summer Holiday says it is unfair that while singers are only protected for 50 years, songwriters are rewarded for their lifetime plus another 70 years. In two to three years' time, Richard's earliest hits from 1958 could lose copyright protection. Last year, Elvis Presley's record label re-released his British Number one hits over consecutive weeks to cash in ahead of the deadline.

In Europe, once copyright lapses any organisation using Richard's early songs-a radio station for example-will no longer have to pay him royalties. ''I know as a singer I need the writers but they need us,'' Richard, 65, told BBC Radio yesterday. ''What we want from a song is for life, for the rest of your performing career. ''The fact is that if this continues to happen... artists will not be able to afford to make an album. You have to make a certain amount of money to pay for the sessions.'' He added that while he was fortunate to still be a major selling artist, other lesser-known singers would lose out on what in some cases was effectively their pension.

Friday is the deadline for submissions to the British government before it reviews intellectual property which includes sound copyright. Matt Phillips, spokesman for Britain's record industry association the British Phonographic Industry, said the copyright law jeopardised investment in future talent. ''We are calling for the term to be brought into line with the term afforded to the songwriters,'' he said. He added that the United States had extended copyright protection for sound recordings following a similar campaign led by the late singer Sonny Bono.

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