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New Copyright Battle


(@danlasley)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2135
Topic starter  

This should be interesting. Songwriters may be able to regain rights to their older songs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/arts/music/springsteen-and-others-soon-eligible-to-recover-song-rights.html?_r=1&hp


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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

This doesn't surprise me:

“In terms of all those big acts you name, the recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley

I know that Zappa spent years fighting with Warner Bros. to get ownership of his songs and master recordings back in his control.
I'm glad that there's a mechanism for the songwriters to get regain control (and a more fair share of the profits) of their work.

Unfortunately, and also un-surprisingly:

As the record companies see it, the master recordings belong to them in perpetuity, rather than to the artists who wrote and recorded the songs

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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(@danlasley)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2135
Topic starter  

I love the old chestnut - "These are work-for-hire." But the expenses are charged to the artist and royalties have been paid for many years. I may have it wrong, but I thought these were clearly separate - either it's work-for-hire and you get paid a set fee, or it's a copyrighted creation and you get royalties. The courts will have lots of fun with all of this.


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(@smokindog)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5359
 

If it goes to the Supreme Court they will give it to the record companies. But it won't matter because in a few years most of the big labels will be gone. We are starting to see musicians like Jack Conte, Lauren O'Connell and others making a living posting songs and video on you tube. they may get two or three millions hits (you-tube splits the advertising revenue 50-50). Pomplamoose sold one hundred thousand singles on i-tunes in 2009. I'm sure it was lots more this year. But I do feel bad for the major record companies.....NOT!

My Youtube Page
http://www.youtube.com/user/smokindog
http://www.soundclick.com/smokindogandthebluezers

http://www.soundclick.com/guitarforumjams


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

I love the old chestnut - "These are work-for-hire." But the expenses are charged to the artist and royalties have been paid for many years. I may have it wrong, but I thought these were clearly separate - either it's work-for-hire and you get paid a set fee, or it's a copyrighted creation and you get royalties.

I think it's a bit more complicated than that.

There's no question that the artist can reclaim the song, but the masters aren't the song - they're a recording of the song. As I understand the RIAA's arguments, they hinge on the argument that the recording is more than the artist and the song - it's a collaborative effort that includes the work of those hired directly by the studio: studio musicians, producers, recording engineers, mastering staff, etc.

The money side of things isn't the slam dunk you might think. Some artists may argue that it can't be a work for hire, because their royalties were reduced to cover all expenses. The labels will simply trot out five or ten times as many artists with identically structured contracts who didn't sell enough copies to cover their advance, and offer that as proof that the recording itself is for-hire.

The distinction between an employee (who creates works for hire) and a contracted partner (who shares in and/or retains ownership of their work) is very, very gray. I think the labels have a very strong argument: a contract partner is a business entity, so their capital is at risk in a project; an employee is always paid for their labor, and never has their capital at risk. Artist contracts never require repayment of an advance unless the contract is breached.

It's often unfortunate, but law isn't based on principle; it's based on procedure, and very narrow questions. Labels regularly sign an artist and have second thoughts - there are thousand of albums that were recorded and never released. There are tens of thousands of more cases where artists created a work that didn't sell enough to hit the accounting break-even. In all of those cases the artist kept the advance. The question will not be whether Springsteen or the Rolling Stones ended up paying for all their production costs; the question will be whether the label had a guarantee of recovering costs - even in the case of superstars, there's no guarantee that the next album will be a hit.

Like most legal issues, a court will ultimately use a basic question like this to decide the "winner". And like most legal issues, the real winner will be the lawyers. I predict tens of thousands of billable hours on this one.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@boxboy)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1226
 

Thought I'd bump this thread.
The landmark case passed the first hurdle. Not sure what level of 'court' and no doubt will be appealed.

'It all goes back to the 1978 amendments to the US Copyright Act. According to that law, songwriters have the right to unilaterally terminate their copyright deals with labels and publishers, 35 years after the contracts are inked, provided they give due notice to labels and publishers. It is under that law, which takes effect next year, that Willis is relcaiming his rights to the Village People's hits.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/may/09/village-people-policeman-royalties

Don


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Thanks, Laz! The guy doing my leads since the mid-70's said something about this a bit of a while ago...and, seeing I'm off with Jane & Cheetah here in Australia's rainforest...I wasn't sure of what he was on about. It's amazing for me to realize that...yep...over thirty years have creeped up on us. Our work's been doing commercial music...advertising...but it's still the same for us.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@s1120)
Prominent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 849
 

Thanks, Laz! The guy doing my leads since the mid-70's said something about this a bit of a while ago...and, seeing I'm off with Jane & Cheetah here in Australia's rainforest...I wasn't sure of what he was on about. It's amazing for me to realize that...yep...over thirty years have creeped up on us. Our work's been doing commercial music...advertising...but it's still the same for us.

Cat
That must open up a whole other can of worms. Doing add work for people. Is the copyright rules diferent?

Paul B


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Definitely...but they've been sorted out. The stuff I did for a multi-national ad agency is owned by them...but that's like 5% of my stuff. There's also a good agency collecting and disbursing my royalties. Jingles are, by their nature...short and sweet. Stealing copyrights is easier on jingles because they are less than 5 bars...where over 5 is theft on "real music". But the melodies are "everything" in jingles so proper documentation of "first use/first issue" is protection enough. I've had my older brother (Attourney in White Plains, NY) taking care of all this since my first one in 1974. We've just resurrected some tunes from way long ago...never published...but copywritten to do again right now. We were advised to just rename them and come up with new applications. Our two co-producers (you'd know them) are right now dealing with the guy I've been working with for nearly 40 years...the lead player. He's Julliard (etc) and can write out the musical legalese my brother needs. Look, I'm a dumb hippy that got here by The Braille Method so this sorta thing gets my stomach churning. I've crossed the 60-year bridge and now am more wary than ever of protecting myself and my family...no time to screw up again...especially now since my young wife wants another kid in addition to the first three. I had a whole LP stolen from me in the early 80's...sued...and collected. Once bitten...etc.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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