Sunday, October 11, 2009

Musicians Starting To Assert Copyright Termination Rights Against Record Labels; Techdirt, 10/9/09

Mike Masnick, Techdirt; Musicians Starting To Assert Copyright Termination Rights Against Record Labels:

"There's been a lot of attention recently to the news that the heirs of comic book artist Jack Kirby are alerting companies of plans to take back the copyright on various Kirby characters, using the termination rights in the Copyright Act. This followed a very long and drawn out lawsuit involving a similar attempt over Superman. The details are really complex, but copyright law allows the original creator (or heirs if that creator has passed away) certain opportunities to basically negate a deal that was signed early on to hand over the copyright on certain works. The idea was to help protect artists who signed bad deals, but in practice, it's just been a total mess.

Still, given the success of the Superman saga in getting at least some of the copyrights back, suddenly lots of people are looking to see what other copyrights can be reclaimed. Apparently, a bunch of musicians are now lining up to try to regain their rights from the labels starting in 2013 (the first year musical works are eligible). As the article notes, with record labels still too clueless to figure out how to successfully build business models around new acts, many still rely on sales of old music to bring in a lot of their revenue. If the labels lose the copyrights on much of that music... well... let's just say suddenly The Pirate Bay may be the least of their concerns."

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