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Extending the Term: The Gowers Review and the Campaign to Increase the Length of Copyright in Sound Recordings

Harkins, Paul



After the UK government commissioned a review of intellectual property in 2005, a campaign to “Extend the Term” of copyright in sound recordings was orchestrated by trade magazine Music Week on behalf of the recording industry and performing artists. Alan McGee was one of the few dissenting voices and stated quite explicitly that the campaign was motivated by major record companies wanting to protect their profits from the back catalogs of heritage rock acts rather than the rights of independent labels or the priorities of performers. This article will examine the arguments about the perceived discrimination against record companies and performers and ask whether increasing the term of fifty years is a sensible solution to this problem. It will also explore the way in which copyright has been treated as if it is a form of physical property and perceived as a pension for aging rock stars rather than a short-term monopoly right that allows creators and entrepreneurs an opportunity to recoup their investment and make a profit for a limited period of time. The debate exposed a hostile and damaging division between academics and representatives of the music industries and the conclusion will ask how academics can contribute to the policy-making process in a way that ensures their voices are taken seriously.


Harkins, P. (2012). Extending the Term: The Gowers Review and the Campaign to Increase the Length of Copyright in Sound Recordings. Popular Music and Society, 35, 629-649.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2012
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2014
Print ISSN 0300-7766
Electronic ISSN 1740-1712
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Pages 629-649
Keywords The Gowers Review; sound recordings; copyright;
Public URL
Publisher URL