BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Veteran acts such as Cliff Richard and the Beatles would earn royalties for years to come under a European Union scheme which puts performers on a more equal copyright footing with composers.
Under EU plans adopted on Wednesday, copyright for musicians and singers is being extended to 95 years from 50 years, assuring Cliff and other ageing rockers of continued royalties on songs like Living Doll recorded in the early part of their careers.
For composers copyright protection will continue to run until 70 years after death.
Without reform, 7,000 performers in Britain alone would lose all their airplay royalties over the next 10 years, the EU said.
Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy first outlined his plan in February and received a warm welcome from record labels and top acts such as U2. The proposal needs approval from EU governments and the European Parliament to take effect.
McCreevy said the changes would benefit less well known artists in particular as they depend more on regular royalties to see them through retirement.
In Britain the Gowers report for the government came out against extending the 50 year copyright rule for performers, but McCreevy said there was no compelling reason why a performer should not have similar rights to a composer.
The typical performer stands to gain between 150 euros ($239) and 2,000 euros a year for extra airplay fees, he said.
McCreevy's plan also includes a "use it or lose it" provision, so performers who transferred rights to a record label which no longer wanted to market the recordings can grab back their rights.
"The copyright measures adopted today should underline that we take a holistic approach when it comes to intellectual property," McCreevy said in a statement.
Editing by Dale Hudson and David Holmes