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17 May 2006 : Column 338WH

The broader intellectual property system is not one of rewards or, as the hon. Gentleman put it, a pension fund for old musicians. It is one of incentives to invest and innovate; that is its importance to the economy. It must encourage new innovators to create and generate ideas in the knowledge that they will be remunerated for their endeavour. We must ensure that creators continue to be incentivised to contribute and innovate in the future.

It is not only the length of the copyright term that affects the remuneration of artists but the scope of that term. In the EU, while the term is 50 years, artists also receive royalties every time their song is played in a bar, restaurant or hairdresser’s. In the US, under the bars and grills exception, few such royalty payments are made. The definition of “public” and therefore the scope of protection of sound recordings is far broader in the EU than in the United States. The Gowers review will consider the impact of changing the length of term not only on artists and their immediate industry buton industries that use sound recordings, such as broadcasting, tourism and internet service providers. It is vital to say again that the intellectual property system stimulates innovation and creates value across the whole economy.

The crux of the debate, as the hon. Gentleman made clear in his speech, is how to strike a balance. Andrew Gowers is considering the areas that the hon. Gentleman touched upon, and I undertake to ensure that he gets a copy of this afternoon’s debate. I know that he will take seriously the points that all hon. Members have made as part of his deliberations.

Digitisation and globalisation create challenges and opportunities for our copyright regime. We need to ensure that the UK responds in the right way and the right areas. By doing so, we can sustain the success that our economy enjoys in the globalising and increasingly knowledge-based economy. It is not just the Chancellor and I who are looking forward to the recommendations of the Gowers review; the level of House interest in this short debate this afternoon demonstrates that the recommendations that Andrew Gowers comes up with will be keenly awaited and, I am sure, keenly debated when he publishes them.

I hope that we will be able to return to this debate, because in many parts of the House, there is clearly an interest in doing so. I had expected a contribution representing the views of the Musicians Union, but I did not expect that we would also hear the views of the all-party jazz appreciation group. Clearly, a number of Members with interests in the area will also be looking forward to Andrew Gowers’ report when we finally publish it.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at eleven minutes past Five o’clock.

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