Under the law, creators of any works of art are granted ‘termination rights’ after 35 years if they apply two years in advance of the anniversary, meaning they can get the rights in 2013.
This means that recordings from 1978, like Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, will be able to be controlled by the artists that created them.
Currently, the record company receives any royalties from the recordings.
However, the issue is concerning record companies, particularly as record sales are continuing to fall due to illegal downloading.
According to the news provider, this has left record labels increasingly reliant on sales of older recordings.
Steven Marks, general counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents record companies, told the New York Times that termination rights do not apply to these artists because the records are “works for hire” while the musicians were at the time employees.
It is thought that the issue could lead to a number of lawsuits as more artists seek their termination rights under the law, while record labels will fight against them.
“I think there are going to be some artists who feel so strongly about this that they are not going to want to settle, and will insist on getting all their rights back,” observed entertainment lawyer Lita Rosario.
Eagles star Don Henley, who is part of the Recording Artists Coalition, called getting the rights back a “personal issue” for many artists.
“I look at my masters as something I created. The work for hire clause attempts to state that the record labels are the creators of these works, which is absurd,” he said.
“The artists create these works and they should own them. It’s as simple as that.”
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