Wednesday, 18 November 2009

[creative-radio] Copyright Time Bomb Set to Disrupt Music, Publishing Industries


Copyright Time Bomb Set to Disrupt Music, Publishing Industries



The late '70s, when punk exploded and disco imploded, were tumultuous
years for the music industry. A time bomb embedded in legislation from
that era, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, could bring another round of
tumult to the business, due to provisions that allow authors or their
heirs to terminate copyright grants — or at the very least renegotiate
much sweeter deals by threatening to do so.


The Copyright Act includes two sets of rules for how this works. If an
artist or author sold a copyright before 1978 (Section 304), they or their
heirs can take it back 56 years later. If the artist or author sold the
copyright during or after 1978 (Section 203), they can terminate that
grant after 35 years. Assuming all the proper paperwork gets done in time,
record labels could lose sound recording copyrights they bought in 1978
starting in 2013, 1979 in 2014, and so on. For 1953-and-earlier music,
grants can already be terminated.

The Eagles plan to file grant termination notices by the end of the year,
according to "It's going to happen," said Eveline. "Just think of
what the Eagles are doing when they get back their whole catalog. They
don't need a record company now…. You'll be able to go to
(updated) and get all their songs. They're going to do it; it's coming

Other artists are also filing notices (there's a five-year window),
according to Bernstein. But in some cases, they're choosing to leave the
copyright grant where it is — albeit with much more favorable terms.

"There are all different kinds of ways people approach it," said
Bernstein. "If they have a publishing company that's making money for
them, and collecting it and paying them well, they may just want a higher
royalty. Or if they're unhappy, they get it back."

This isn't just about music. "It's every type of copyright," said
Bernstein. "It doesn't distinguish between the types of copyright."

The only exceptions, he said, are derivative works such as movies based on
novels that include certain music in their soundtracks, because Congress
decided it was unfair to ask publishers to give those licenses back to
artists and authors.

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