The labels still focus on infringement and see that as a big issue. Stream ripping sites are getting a lot of attention right now, especially in Australia.
But the shitty way the labels treat the artists who created valuable art “which is worth something” is not an issue to the labels.
Years ago, the labels went to court against artists like Eminem, David Coverdale and Don Henley concerning digital royalties. The labels always paid low royalties on sales of music CDs and vinyl. However, “licensing” music (once upon a time licensing was for movies or commercials only), offered a higher payout to the artist.
The question the artists wanted to know was how is iTunes treated?
The labels said iTunes is a “sale” like a CD sale and the artist is paid the lower royalty rate.
The artists countered that iTunes is a “license,” like for a commercial, as the labels need to license their music to the tech service for the tech service to sell it. This in turn means the artists are meant to be paid the higher royalty rate of up to to 50%.
In the U.S the labels won at the district court level, while the artists won at the appeals court level.
Now this “sales vs license” scenario was relevant up to about 2011 as newer contracts the labels drew up afterwards avoided this problem. Basically, everything is a sale to the labels even the streams from streaming service all so the labels could rip off artists a little bit more.
Not sure if anyone noticed, but Def Leppard was also caught up in this dispute for years with their label, hence the reason why their music wasn’t on any streaming or digital service for a long time. Def Leppard even refuses to let their label license their music until they sorted out the payment issue.
And the big issue here is that the record labels really owe a lot of money to artists but they still put out lies that infringement is the biggest challenge they face while they go to court against the artists. But they still put out the propaganda that when they ask for longer copyright terms, it’s for the artists, when they ask for stream ripping sites to be taken down, it’s also for the artists. Basically everything the labels do is for the artists, except payments.
Furthermore, all the labels know that their power in the market is based on the content they hold. In this case, it’s the songs they hold on behalf of artists.
So the Copyright Act in the U.S gives creators the right to terminate a copyright grant they have given to a corporation after a 35-year period.
And of course there are a lot of artists who created works which ended up becoming very valuable, who want to reclaim their copyrights.
Basically artists who released music up to 1984 have put in claims to get their works back.
Then it will be 1985 releases and before you know it, the 1990s artists will want to their rights back. And if you grew up in this period, you know that there are a lot of great songs that make a lot of money, which the labels don’t want to lose control of and the artists who want to get those songs back under their control.
But the labels will not let it happen without a fight in the courts.
And they are using their own interpretation of the law which could bog down the proceedings for years while lawyers argue words in the Act and how they can be interpreted.
And the big thing the labels are sticking with is the “works for hire” principle which worked a treat for the movie studios.
Basically if an employee creates something as a work for hire, it means the employer is the owner of the work and the work can not be terminated. So the labels are basically saying that the artists are employees, which we all know is bullshit, because I am sure the artists didn’t get monies added to a pension fund or holiday pay and what not.
Also when the artist wrote that hit song, it wasn’t because they were an employee of the label, it was because they had an idea, either at band practice, or at soundcheck, or in their hotel room or bedroom.
But hey, I guess power corrupts and always wins. It’s time all of the artists started terminating their rights with the corporations.