Posted by: emmajoyce | November 5, 2012

“I won’t be bought and sold like a piece of meat.”

As a journalist, it is vital to be aware of copyright issues involving music, not only because of the necessity of using music in written pieces and multimedia productions, but also to understand copyright law in the broader sense of being an artist.

One current hot topic on the table is a 1976 copyright law (Section 203) that allows artists to reclaim music rights after 35 years by terminating rights granted to record labels, with the provision that they provide a 2-10 year notice in advance of the termination.

2013 will be the first year for this law to come to fruition, so it will be interesting to see how the rulings pan out. As one New York Times article acknowledges, “some recording artists and their lawyers are talking about simply exercising their rights and daring the record companies to stop them.”

The artists mentioned in many of these cases are big players whose music is heard everywhere from high school football fields to professional sports arenas: Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan (to name a few).

An interesting case to look at is Tom Petty, who went as far as to file bankruptcy, rather than fold to his record labels, saying, “I won’t be bought and sold like a piece of meat.” His record Damn the Torpedoes was appropriately titled to reflect those sentiments.

Do you think that artists should be able to reclaim their rights after a certain amount of time? Why or why not?

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