[tweetmeme] [fbshare type=”button”] Don Henley of the Eagles has slammed record labels’ attempts to prevent musicians from gaining legal ownership of their master tapes.
He says the big business argument amounts to labels claiming they created the work, not bands – and adds that if it puts companies in an even worse situation than they currently find themselves, it’s their own fault.
Changes to American copyright law means labels will no longer be allowed to own recordings for ever. Provided they register two years in advance, artists can invoke “termination rights” and be granted ownership of masters recorded after 1978.
Henley has begun that procedure for Eagles masters and suggests other musicians should think about doing the same.
“I look at my masters as something I created. I want to be able to pass them onto my kids – it’s part of their legacy, or at least is should be.”
Record companies had attempted to bypass the new law by having a “work for hire” clause inserted, meaning musicians would be viewed as having done a job for payment, in the same way builders might be paid to build a wall and wouldn’t have any rights of ownership over it.
But Henley says: “The work for hire clause attempts to state the record labels are the creators of these works – which is absurd.”
The Recording Industry Association of America argues the situation will create chaos, saying: “Rights for most recordings would be divided among band members, producers and others who contributed to the recording. It might require years of litigation to sort out who has what rights.”
Henley retorts: “That’s a lovely dance step. It’s merely conjecture. I want my stuff back – and if the producer or the percussionist wants termination rights for it, let me deal with that. Better the chaos on the artists’ side than on the labels’ side. They’re in chaos already.
“But if the industry had been more fair, historically speaking, to both artists and consumers, it might be looked upon a little more kindly. The labels are sleeping in a bed of their own making.”