Stupidity just doesn’t seem to go away these days. Last month the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) promoted it’s World Intellectual Property Day with a slogan from a Bob Marley and the Wailers song called “Get Up, Stand Up”. WIPO’s theme was “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music”.
Did you know that a judge ruled against Bob Marley’s heirs a few years who sought to regain control of Marley’s copyrights from Universal Music claiming that Marley wrote the song as a work made for hire and thus Universal could keep the copyright, and not give it back to the Marley Estate.
Now “work for hire” means that an artist was commissioned to write a song to the exact specifications of the record label. Wikipedia states “work for hire” in the following way;
A work made for hire is a work created by an employee as part of his or her job, or a work created on behalf of a client where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation.
I can’t believe how a judge would seriously believe that the record label at the time “Island Records” would have given the song titles to Bob Marley and told him the theme of what the song should be about.
Anyone involved in music knows too well that is not the case for at all. “Get Up, Stand Up” was written after Marley toured Haiti and the poverty that he was confronted with in that country.
As the Techdirt article points out, you have an organisation so dumb and out of touch with culture that it using a song from an artist that has been hijacked by the corporations who push for stronger copyright enforcement.
As far as I’m concerned, Bob Marley’s copyright MUST be in the Public Domain upon death. The public is meant to be the beneficiaries here, not the heirs and not the record labels.
Which brings me to the “Stairway To Heaven” court case.
You see I am not a fan of the heirs of an artist inheriting the copyrights of the artist once they die and I am definitely not a fan of the heirs of an artist suing others for money. We can all hear that Jimmy Page lifted the riff from the Spirit track “Taurus” and to be honest made a better derivative version of the Spirit track. For whatever reasons Spirit guitarist Randy California was cool with it and nothing happened. However the heirs are now challenging that.
What a sad state it is when a court has to decide on this and whichever way the court rules, the court is putting out the idea that one track is so original and the other is not. As a musician, trust me when I say that no song or riff is created in a vacuum. Each piece of music that comes out is a sum of our influences.
One final thing to add to my rant. When can the artists get it right when it comes to the music industry and recording industry references. Check out this quote from Ron Bumblefoot, the current guitarist in Guns N’ Roses.
”The music industry started to see their customers as their enemies and everybody suffered for it. Congratulations record industry – you’ve made a mess and you still don’t know how to clean it up.”
I always state over and over again, that the music industry is not the recording industry. They are two different entities. You see, the music industry didn’t see their customers as enemies, nor did they sue them, it was the recording industry that did that.