Sunday, September 1, 2013
For a Classic Motown Song About Money, Credit Is What He Wants; New York Times, 8/31/13
Larry Rohter, New York Times; For a Classic Motown Song About Money, Credit Is What He Wants: "Unbeknown to Mr. Strong, who also helped write many other Motown hits, his name was removed from the copyright registration for “Money” three years after the song was written, restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, then removed again the next year — his name literally crossed out. Documents at the copyright office show that all of these moves came at the direction of Motown executives, who dispute Mr. Strong’s claim of authorship. Berry Gordy Jr., Motown’s founder, declined requests for an interview, but his lawyers contend that the original registration resulted from a clerical error, and that Mr. Strong passed up numerous opportunities to assert his claim. Mr. Strong said he learned of the alterations only late in 2010 and has been struggling ever since to have his authorship officially reinstated. At stake: his ability to share in the lucrative royalties from the song’s use. But his efforts have been blocked by a provision of copyright law that says he relinquished his rights by failing to act in a timely fashion to contest Motown’s action. Mr. Strong’s predicament illustrates a little-known oddity in the American copyright system, one that record and music publishing companies have not hesitated to exploit. The United States Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, does not notify authors of changes in registrations, and until recently the only way to check on any alterations was to go to Washington and visit the archives personally."