Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EMI vs. Artists: The Big Battle Ahead

EMI logo graphic from Music 3.0 blog
Leave it to a major label to turn something meant to benefit artists into a potential business busting battleground. EMI was once a welcome home to some of the biggest names in the music business (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Bob Seger to name just a few), but if they continue on their present path they're going to have the mother of all lawsuits on their hands, according to former MP3.com ceo and industry gadfly Michael Robertson.

It all started a few years back when Congress changed the copyright law so that artists had a chance to reclaim ownership of their works after 35 years (see my previous post on the subject). Obviously there's been a lot of artists who were taken advantage of 35 plus years ago, so beginning in 2013, it was going to be possible for them to get the rights to their songs back and therefore finally collect their fair share of the royalties, thanks to the new law.

But EMI doesn't look like it's about to let that happen says Robertson, declaring that their works were actually a "work for hire," which is a term that basically means "we paid you some money to produce this material for us, and now we own it all and you own nothing." Bottom line, it means that these artists might not only get their rights back, but may not even see another dime in royalties as well.

So who are the artists that EMI is trying to take to the cleaners? Here's a partial list:

Adam Ant
Amy Grant
Asleep At The Wheel
Beastie Boys
Ben Folds Five
Bill Evans
Billy Idol
Bob Seger
Bob Welch
Bonnie Raitt
Boz Scaggs
Crystal Gayle
Daft Punk
Duran Duran
Fats Domino
Frank Sinatra
George Clinton
Herbie Hancock
Iggy Pop
Katy Perry
Keith Urban
Lenny Kravitz
Missing Persons
Norah Jones
Paul McCartney
Pink Floyd
Sammy Hagar
And the list goes on and on.

To say the least, if this is really true EMI is playing not only with fire, but with dynamite, since some of the names on the list are extremely well financed and very prepared to do battle. If nothing else, it should make for an interesting couple of years should they follow through on their plans.

For the full list as well as Michael Robertson's insight into this story, go to Hypebot.

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