Back in 2011 a EU Directive was passed relating to the term of copyright in sound recordings and co-authored works. This comes into force in the UK on 1st November 2013. I’ve summarized below some key points for music users:
The copyright term for sound recordings increases from 50 years to 70 years. This extended term only applies to sound recordings that are protected by copyright on 1st November 2013 – where copyright in a sound recording has already expired this extension will not serve to bring it back into copyright. Therefore any recording published prior to 1st November 1963 remains out of copyright. But a recording produced after this date will remain in copyright for 70 years from the date of publication.
A co-authored work is defined as one where the music and lyrics for a composition are written specifically for each other. In these instances, from 1st November the term of copyright in both the words and the music will each last until 70 years following the death of the last surviving creator. This doesn’t apply if the copyrights in both the words and music have already expired. However if copyright in the words has expired, but remains in the music (or vice versa), copyright is revived in that part of the co-authored work where copyright had expired. The term of protection for both the words and the music will then last until 70 years after the death of the last surviving creator.
In contrast to the legislation for sound recordings, in the case of co-authored works the legislation does apply retrospectively. Dvořák’s opera “Rusalka” is an example of where copyright in the music in the opera will be revived under these new regulations. Dvořák died in 1904, so the copyright in the music expired in 1974. The libretto of the opera was written by Jaroslav Kvapil who died in 1950, so the libretto will remain in copyright until 2020. Therefore, in the case of this particular opera, copyright in the music will be revived and will expire at the end of 2020, at the same time as the words.
Further detail can be found in the full text of the Statutory Instrument: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/1782/pdfs/uksi_20131782_en.pdf