Don Henley On Copyrights, Termination

Gearing up for an
inevitable battle with major record labels.


By Fred Mills


Eagles motormouth Don Henley is rarely our go-to guy in
day-to-day BLURT matters (well, maybe when we need tips on upcoming Wal-Mart
sales). But there’s no questioning his intelligence and, pertinent to the
matter at hand, ability to be an effective advocate when there’s a cause he’s
passionate about. Last month we reported on the looming battle between record
labels and artists over song rights; scores of musicians are soon to be
potentially eligible to gain ownership of recordings made over 35 years ago,
and needless to say, in the instances of, say, the Eagles or Bruce Springsteen
or any number of ‘70s mega-selling stars, there’s a lot of money that stands to
be put on the table for artists and labels to go to war over. See this
excellent New York Times story about
the “termination rights” situation.


Yesterday at, Henley
weighed in during a revealing interview, and it’s well-worth reading. He’s
convinced the aforementioned battle will in fact take place – gentlemen, start
your lawyers, or as Henley puts it, of the labels, “They’re not just going to
roll over” – but he’s also equally convinced that musicians are in the right. A
couple of his better quotes:


On Musician’s Options: “Artists have several things they can do. They can re-up with the label and
use this as leverage to renegotiate a recording agreement. They can invoke
termination rights and take back their master recordings and see what they can
do themselves. If they get it back, they can shop it around and see if anybody
else wants it – another label or an indie label or they might market it
themselves on the Internet. Or artists can go back and re-record everything.”


On Artists’ Point Of
View Versus Labels:
“Record companies insist sound recordings are
“work for hire” and artists are employees of the companies. Which is
a real interesting claim because we don’t enjoy any of the benefits or
obligations a normal employee would be granted. They don’t provide health
insurance for us. They don’t pay Social Security for us. They don’t withhold
taxes from our royalty checks. They don’t provide us a place of employment.
It’s a real stretch for the record companies to claim we’re employees. We’re
independent contractors.”



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