I thought I’ll go with a Dio title for this post since I’m on a Dio kick at the moment.
Ahh, Copyright. A right created for creators to have a monopoly on their creations for a limited time, which was hijacked by corporations (Record Labels, Movie Studios and Publishers) and recently Investment funds.
I’m not a fan of “The Jesus and Mary Chain” but like so many artists before them, they are going to court because their label Warner Music doesn’t want to give them back the rights to their debut album, “Psycho Candy” released in 1985, even though the law states that they should.
This got me thinking about John Waite, who also went to court, because UMG wouldn’t give him back his rights.
And he didn’t win, because on the contract he signed, it was his “loan out company” on the paperwork and not him. Loan out companies are set up by the creator to employ themselves. This gives the artists a lot of tax benefits and when organisations make agreements with the artists, it is via their “loan out company”.
Read this post on CopyrightLately.com for an excellent explanation.
So UMG took the position that Waite didn’t grant them the copyrights, his company did and a company is not eligible to terminate a copyright.
Now for the triple smack down.
Are you ready?
The termination clauses in the Copyright Act, only allow natural persons and the heirs to terminate a copyright, so individuals benefit and not corporations. Yet, it is a corporation like Warner Music and UMG who benefit if the copyrights don’t revert back to the creators.
What a mess?
Waite’s tax-planning vehicle has crashed his termination rights and he had no idea that would be the case when he formed his loan out company.
And while creators are fighting to get back their songs, other creators are fighting to get back control of their brand. The estate of Chris Cornell, which is run by Vicky Cornell, has been controlling Soundgarden’s website and social media accounts. The surviving members of Soundgarden have asked previously for access, but they have been denied and they have not been happy about it.
Vicky Cornell sued the remaining members in 2019, accusing them of withholding royalties to force her to hand over recordings that Chris Cornell worked on before his death. And at the start of 2021, she sued them again over money and then offered to buy out the other members so she could control the Soundgarden brand.
But the change of ownership is a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Gene Simmons from KISS has become a lobbyist, making his prophetic lyrics in “Cadillac Dreams” come true. Instead of recording new material, he is meeting with members of Congress to get laws passed so streaming services pay them more.
From the lips of Gene Simmons, “most people don’t realize every time you download a song, the songwriter is making minuscule amounts of one penny”. Umm is he talking about downloads or streams. Two totally different things there. And he goes onto a rant that there will be never be another Lennon, etc., but when you live in an ivory tower, you’re so out of touch, you have no idea what is happening and how much money new artists are making.
New Organisations which come from the labels or the publishers are still rooted in the same crappy innovation ideals of those organisations. So when Congress passed a law to create a new arm to match the unpaid royalties to artists, the first thing the new organisation did, called MLC, is nothing.
Their claim portal for artists to log in and search through unmatched songs and claim the ones they own is still not up and running.
Someone should tell Gene, to lobby this corporation to get the Claim Portal up and running.
So potentially, the unpaid royalties will now sit with MLC for at least 5 years and maybe more, before they even get a chance to be distributed.
But in all honesty, this will be a disaster, because there are a lot of conflicts of interest present when it comes to songs. Ex band members will claim songs out of spite, not because they wrote them.
Meanwhile, Gene’s punching bag, YouTube, paid over $4 billion to the labels and publishers over the last year. How much of that found its way back to artists or songwriters remains to be seen?
And the Federal Court of Australia made Clive Palmer pay even more money back to Universal Publishing, for his recreation of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” into the song “Aussies Not Gonna Cop It”, which he then used in all of his campaign videos across the nation. So instead of paying $150K for a 12 month licence to use the proper song, he has ended up paying $1.5 million in damages plus lawyer fees and what not.
What a dickhead?
And on the topic of dickheads, the major record labels (Sony Music, UMG and Warner) along with the music publishing companies are doing their best to own the title.
There hell bent nuclear strategy to go after internet service providers (ISPs) for the actions of a few users, these organisations have found a way to cut people off from the internet based on a mere accusation of copyright infringement.
A recent court decision in the U.S, has given these organisations unprecedented power and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) is doing their best to get this bad decision overturned due to the incorrect instructions the judge had given the jury.
Basically these organisations claim for damages when people use the songs they have the rights for and then they get the courts and the law and the politicians to fight their battles.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the labels, publishers and independent copyright holders have teamed up with the ISP’s to block sites without the need of a court approval.
Each Copyright complaint by a label or TV producer is reviewed by a committee made up of retired judges. Streaming services make up 55% of revenue in Germany and piracy has reduced significantly. However people still seek out P2P services hence the reason why they want this kind of power.
But web-freedom activists are not happy as they believe this kind of power restricts internet freedom. The method here is to attack the services that offer illegal content rather than the users.
As the article in Billboard stated: “In Germany, the legislative environment is heavily weighted against censorship and attacks on internet freedom. Having lived under the Nazi Third Reich and communist East Germany, Germany considers privacy a hard-won freedom.”
The power granted to corporations for Copyright Infringements is a form of censorship and for the German people, censorship will never happen again.
Meanwhile Twitch is getting hit with thousands of copyright infringement claims on a daily basis. So the entertainment corporations close down or take down or shake down people and services from trading in pirated works, and then when they use music in their live streamed videos, these same bodies issue infringement claims to take it all down.
Maybe a conversation between Twitch and the entertainment corporations would have resulted in a better outcome.
But that’s too difficult.
Talking, that is.
And remember when Steven Spielberg was trying to destroy streaming services and Netflix in general and he didn’t want Netflix movies nominated for Oscars because the movies that Netflix makes are shown on TV screens. Well Netflix won seven Oscars at the recent Academy Awards and that was more than any other studio.
Well good old Steve knows a good deal, and he just signed up to make movies for Netflix. I guess reality is a slap in the face.
Thank you for your cooperation. A copyright complaint is just around the corner.
And I feel like listening to “2112” from Rush right now.