Musicians who want to regain control of their hit songs from the mid 1970s can now reclaim them due to the copyright law termination rights. As long as music artists apply for these rights two years before the 35th anniversary of the songs being copyrighted, they can reclaim them. Music labels are livid about this development, but musicians have been waiting for this opportunity for decades. Award-winning musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Billy Joel, and Steve Miller have made millions for record companies and songs from 1978 are now in the two-year timeframe.
“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, from the Eagles and a founder of the Recording Artists Coalition. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.”
The big record companies such as Universal, EMI, Sony BMG, and Warner Brothers are ready to battle this copyright provision. They believe these songs and records are classified as works for hire. Musicians are thus employees and not independent performers for the record label from their viewpoint.
The Recording Academy is concerned about termination rights disputes overwhelming the courts. Musicians are getting legal representation now to send termination rights notices to labels and get ready for 2013. As it stands now, record labels are not giving in. Some onlookers predict the issue might even make it to the U.S. Supreme Court in due time.
Next year, musicians will be able to send notices for songs made in 1979, and with each passing year more hits will be up for grabs. When a song qualifies for the 35-year expiration, an author has five years to claim it; otherwise the right to reclaim it passes. This issue also brings up questions of what a song author is – do record producers, foreign artists (think Led Zeppelin), and songwriters who write for big names have the right to request termination rights from labels?
As many of these songs and artists from 1978 defined their generation, this issue also becomes important for licensing rights. Many of these songs are coveted by advertisers, used in TV and film, and for ringtones and video game soundtracks. Musicians will therefore greatly benefit by having an experienced attorney represent their concerns for their song rights and licensing agreements.
In California, Los Angeles entertainment attorney and Los Angeles business lawyer Anthony Spotora is a strong ally for musicians as they exercise their rights. The Law Offices of Spotora & Associates, P.C. is experienced in negotiations, contracts, and litigation to uphold a client’s rights. Their team is skilled in all genres of the industry and represents some of the biggest names in the recording business. To learn more, visit http://www.spotoralaw.com/ or call (877) 4U-EZ-LEGAL.