by Richard Menta 6/12/00
The paragraph below ran in an LA Times article last week titled Time Warner May Sign Licensing Deal With MP3.com This Week and is an example of the pure hypocrisy the Music industry has been feeding the press, the government, and the courts in their rant against MP3 digital music. It comes in the wake of their legal settlement with MP3.com and frankly, it was shocking.
"Next week, however, MP3.com is expected to announce that it will pay more that $100 million to the five companies to settle that aspect of the case. According to sources, at least two of those companies do not plan to pass along any of that money to artists whose music was played on the service".
What?!? What happened to the resounding mantra of the major labels that they were fighting for the rights of the poor exploited artist who were being cheated by My.MP3.com's service? What happened to the artist getting paid for their work?
The truth is the ones most guilty of exploiting the artists is the industry itself and this is not limited to the web where their new artists are forced to sign over the rights to their web sites to close their music contracts. The most recent example is the ominous "Work for Hire" clause the labels sneaked into copyright legislation last year that strips artists of any future rights to the work they created.
As "Work for Hire", the copyright of any recordings made by artists automatically revert to the corporation, not to the individuals who wrote, sang, and played on them. Critic Dave Marsh said it succinctly in his recent Riffage article Eddie's Ball.
"This deal had the effect of taking private property that would eventually belong to those musicians and giving it to Eddie's [Bronfman] Universal Company. That group of owners wasn't given so much as advance notice that its property would be seized. Bronfman has now promised to "fight to preserve the creativity and the genius of creators everywhere."
It is this duplicity that explains why more artists like Public Enemy, Alanis Morrisette, Courtney Love and the Offspring have embraced the technology that the music industry accuses of robbing them (read the NY Times Record Labels Are Hearing an Angry Song for more). They know better as they all have had to hire lawyers, agents, and managers to counter industry greed. Any opportunity to take back control of their music, as well as any profits generated, are welcomed and they see the potential of the Net to do that..
Even Metallica, who has suffered fan backlash from their lawsuit against Napster, sued the company not as tools of the major labels, but more from fear they will lose more control to entities that may become the new labels.
Here's an idea, let's play a game. Starting today June 12th, let us count in all future MP3 articles how many times the industry claims they are out to protect the artist rights. If lies make baby Jesus cry, armageddon is coming sooner than we think.
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