More excellent PR from the record industry

The BBC’s flagship daily news programme, Today, has, over the last few years, been a reliable mouthpiece for the music industry. Yesterday morning, Nicola Stanbridge interviewed Cliff Richard (yes, Cliff Richard) about copyright extension. Cliff advocates an extension of protection for recordings (like his Living Doll) to 95 years.

Stanbridge’s item advanced the case for extension without once mentioning the industry’s over-riding economic interest in the matter and managed to caricature opposition to extension by including no public domain advocates at all – just the rather sad voice of a member of Seventies chart-toppers Darts whose position is informed by the fact that his record label deleted all his recordings years ago. Here’s the email I wrote to Today:

Dear Today,

Nicola Stanbridge’s piece about extending copyright protection for musical recordings (Tuesday 18 April) suggested more than a little music industry spin.

Cliff and the handful of artists whose recordings are still selling after 50 years will not be the main beneficiaries of an extension of copyright protection. The music industry will benefit most because copyright protection takes in entire catalogues, not just a few recordings.

Might I ask Ms Stanbridge to declare any contact she had in the preparation of her piece with music industry PR departments? I ask because her piece essentially promoted the industry position while, strangely, not quoting a single industry representative nor more than obliquely mentioning the industry’s evident interest in an extension.

Meanwhile, the principle victims of an extension – the general public – were not represented at all, despite the fact that all of the best arguments against extension come from people who think that copyright extension directly impoverishes the public domain by reducing public access to historic creative works.

Best wishes,
Steve Bowbrick

Here’s an MP3 of the interview.


  1. Well done, Steve. This issue about performer rights is simply the latest way of submerging the real interests at stake. For a while, the industry was using ‘creators’ as their frontman, until people began to point out that songwriters have an entirely separate set of rights (life+70), and are therefore not in need of any term extension.

    This current campaign, led by Cliff, has been reasonably successful at getting press coverage, but hopefully this one can be dismantled too. Who knows – perhaps by beginning their campaign so early (they’ve got six years until the Beatles begin to enter public domain), they’re inadvertently giving the public more time to pull together the counter-arguments, which are quite substantial.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *