The question of whether or not the term of copyright protection on sound recordings in the UK should be increased from 50 years has come up in a [Review of Intellectual Property]( by Andrew Gowers.

On one side of the argument the music industry are lobbying government for the copyright term on sound recordings to be the same length as the copyright in the composition: life + 70 years.

From the other side, copyright reformers argue that in order to protect the public domain and free old recordings which are no longer commerically viable the term should remain the same. In response to the music industry’s view that the royalties they earn from old recordings are essential to support new acts and old musicians, they argue that a greater economic benefit exists in allowing works to pass into the public domain so new works can be made from them, and this market can flourish.

This debate is particularly interesting for Australia, as we recently extended our own copyright term as part of the US Free Trade Agreement amendments. It will be interesting to see whether Britain makes the same decision, in the absence of an international agreement requiring them to do so.