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Music Media

Works for Hire, Napster and Copyright Law... 15

Ricofencer asks: "After reading Courtney Love's rant a thought occurred to me. In her speech, Courtney makes reference to a change in copyright law that makes recorded music works for hire. This transfers the copyright to the record label, away from the artist. Yet, Metallica's actions against Napster were based upon the premise that their copyrights were violated. If their works were covered by the new law, doesn't that mean that they do not in fact have any copyrights regarding their recorded works? How would that affect the demands they made of Napster? Can Metallica, and now Dr. Dre make demands of Napster based on copyrights they think they may have but may legally be held by their record labels? Or do Metallica and Dr. Dre actually hold the copyrights of their recorded works? (I don't know, I don't have a Metallica album at hand to examine)" If this is true, this would put the Napster suits (and Metallica's own claims) in an interesting light, wouldn't it? However, even if Metallica and Dre no longer retain the copyrights to their work don't they, as the original performers, have the right to act in their record companies' behalf?
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Napster, 'Works for Hire' and Copyright Law?

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  • You want a general chat area? Try creating an sid that doesn't exist, and you can create one.
  • When my wife used to live in Nashville, she had heard that the people who were making consistently good money were the songwriters not the performers. Most of them weren't associated with a particular label, owned the copyrights to the songs, and received royalties from the labels whenever any artist recorded their music. I'll have to ask a friend of mine at BMG if that's still the case.

  • IYAM,

    Doesn't this qualify as a form of denial of service? Or just plain fraud (leading to personal damages)?

    Let's see... If KMFDM remixes a Metallica song, KMFDM (assuming they care) had to secure rights from Metallica to make their song. The copyright of the remixed work however in its form as an audio recording, lies with KMFDM, not Metallica (though of course those common elements remain Metallica's, with KMFDM having limited rights to use them).

    Therefore Metallica forced the blocking of people who hadn't violated their copyrights, but that of other people's (who may or may not have desired their works to be distributed over Napster).

    There's gotta be something in that. I'm sure you're not the only person this happened to.

    I wouldn't be the least surprised if the Metallica / NetPD tracking scheme picked up people for downloading files that Metallica had no rights to. I imagine when/if they go after Gnutella users, they'll be picking up people for trading the Napster BAD! video.

    What recourses would a person have if, say, they were wrongfully removed from an Internet service as a result of (e.g.) an inaccurate abuse complaint? (I'm not aware if Napster requires new users to read a TOS that includes a "right to cancel at any time" clause.)

  • Too bad you don't seem to have email. So, I'll reply here and pretend someone reads it.

    [I]s owning the masters... important...? you can always record again...

    I'm not a musician or a lawyer (though I used to think I was a journalist), but the way I gather it is this: 'owning the masters' is more or less analogous to 'owning the rights to our recordings'.

    It goes something like this. When most bands sign to a label, the rights to publish, release, collect royalties, etc. belong to the record co.

    When someone else wants to gain permission to that copyright (for something like a remix, or a cover, or even a sample), they contact the label, NOT (necessarily) the artist; because it's the label that has the copyright and the authority to grant those rights to others.

    Of course, some bands are smarter (and less desperate) than others, so they can leverage for certain things in their contracts that prevent them from being totally screwed by the record company. (Some.) But even then, if you are to say, LEAVE a record company, you break that contract, and you dont get the same benefits that you got under the contract. And -- most importantly here -- the label (typically) still owns the copyrights to the songs you recorded while you were signed to them.

    (I believe that bands who switch labels need to get permission from their older labels to perform older songs -- but I'm not sure. This would explain why Metallica performs more of their older songs at their concerts than, say, Kid Rock or even the Beastie Boys.)

    There's a lot of ins an outs to this, but basically, Metallica, once successful, fought their previous label in court and managed to wrest those rights from that label.

    Which is, incidentally, why it's Metallica, and not some label, which is at the forefront of this fight. The labels in fact feel more confident when they are working as part of an organized group -- namely the RIAA. (Another example of the usefulness of organizing.)

    And it's also why lots of artists nowadays go through the pain of forming their own labels, to try and fend off some of all this, just so they can have expressive freedom and all that.

    Keith "my last record wasn't pushed for shit, so Jive Records, go and suck a fat dick [-- Kid Rock]" Tyler
  • First of all, why is this topic lingering in the backwoods? Courtney Love's article is far more interesting than anything Lars had to say... and to be honest (IMHO) far more knowlegable and 'insightful' than anything posted to that thread either, admittedly I never read it when I first posted, and quite fairly got modded down for saying badly what she already had. (Just for the record I still don't know who she is, she married that guy who shot himself?)

    I spent 3 years (Bass Guitar FWIW) and if this is the state of things I'm damn glad I dropped out (drank too much, developed phobia, never play now, when I'm drunk I sometimes get tempted by Stanley Clark, Jaco, and Jamerson, but I have discovered the one true perl now) [perth.ac.uk]

    but anyway, if the situation really is this bad now then something has to change, I'd imagine that the move to independent record labels can be in no small part due to this...

    how widespread is this anyway, I'm from the UK and have never heard anything of this at all, which you'd have hoped in 3 years (admittedly a while ago) I would have... or is it just par for the course, beneath mentioning, it's what you do to get the gigs, etc...

    It looks like Metallica have much more important fights than Napster, the fact they have chosen the one they have kinda implies that they have more business sense than musical (or rather concern for music at large), which really is sad since they were a great band when I last listened (Master of Puppets).

    Just out of curiosity is owning the masters the important part? you can always record again... (yeah I know about the costs for a good studio), but unless you give the record co explicit permission then their masters are worth nothing?

    I guess it's all down to contracts.

    Anyway I'm off to find teentown on MP3 by Mr Pastorius, cos I'm not sober, I have the Vinyl that should make it ok yeah?

  • sorry, you'd think that as a web designer (and one who has done work for some stupidly big companies) I wouldn't make mistakes like that...

    /. really could use an edit facility, not to mention an auto mod thing so you can log in and post at 0 if you want, and maybe just a general chat area... boy am I ever the sort of client I hate :)

  • hey that's cool..

    Anyway off back to my private /. chat, gotta flame myself for something rather mean I just said to myself.

  • Its not your IP thats banned...its your computer. You can remove keys from your registry and get back onto napster.

    1. run regedit
    2. delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\software\napster
    3. delete ALL instances of (search for em):
    4. reboot
    5. create new login
  • Don Henly, Sheryl Crow and others are fighting the "work for hire" copyright law. Only thing is that it is not retroactive. Metallica owns it's studio recordings. (They still suck IMHO) "work for hire" would only affect artists after the law changed. I'm not sure it ever passed or not. Anyone? Kirch
  • I think we see now who the real threat to music artists is. It's not Napster or mp3s (they've been heavily popular for a year now and CD sales are still high and getting higher). It's the record labels. This new law is just another link in the chain of the collar of obedience around the necks of the public AND the artists.

    I think the result of these newer developments will be either a growth in the dominance and power of the major record labels, or a gigantic backlash against the current record label system. At the moment things do not look good in averting such a confrontation. Additionally, if I would have to bet which side would win in the end, I would not bet on the record labels.

  • Does anyone know if Metallica followed through with any of the lawsuits? I was banned because of a KMFDM remix of a Metallica song, but I just started using Gnutella instead. My IP address was banned (static) instead of my username; I tried to log in with a few different names, and then downloaded Gnutella.

    I think that Courtney Love brought up many excellent points that I haven't heard until now. Since I also like her music, I'd love to go pay to download songs from her site right now, if I could.
  • I tried exactly that; it didn't work.

    Thanks for the help though. I really do prefer Gnutella. I wish that more people used it.
  • It was signed into law on 1999-11-29 by Slick.
  • As has been said lots of times...

    Metallica is one of few bands who actually do own the rights to their "masters", the original pressings of their songs. They did have to go to court in order to get this privilege, AFAIK.

    Now, they'd like you to believe that, in the years since they were able to do this, that they've done something to help other bands get these same rights, but they really haven't.

    Metallica actually likes to brag about this, flaunting it in front of other garage bands which, contrary to their suggestions, will probably have a harder time than even they did, as a result of their success, at getting a hold of the same rights.

    There are a few other bands, mostly rock, that I've heard of owning their masters, but I can't think of them off hand.
  • by Cplus ( 79286 ) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @09:17PM (#981665) Homepage Journal
    Read all about the Open Audio Licence being developed at The Swindle [theswindle.com]. It is loosely based on the ideas behind the GPL and proposes to make any music released under it into community property. This is not only a statement of the ideals of the musicians involved but also a method of protecting the music by stating that any project which uses an OALed piece must also be released under the OAL. If this sounds interesting to you please come, read more, submit thoughts and help us make it real. Oh yeah, and if you know Courtney Love tell her to read it too.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson