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The former frontman for the UK band Orange Juice was recently denied the right to post his own song on Myspace due to copyright confusion. Turns out a major label claimed to own it, essentially stealing it. His wife and manager says labels steal more music than filesharers.  (Source: The Portastylistic)
Artist's woes illustrate the problems with copyright in the U.S. and abroad

Illogical suits and copyright enforcement are nothing new in the music industry.  Rock musician John Fogerty was once forced to show a court that his song "The Old Man Down The Road" did not share the same chorus as "Run Through The Jungle" -- a song that he also wrote, when he played with the band Creedence Clearwater Revival.  With the modern era of music permeating the internet, though, such bizarre illustrations of a flawed system have taken on a whole new dimension.

One such illustration recently occurred when UK indie rocker Edwyn Collins was barred on MySpace from streaming his own 1994 hit -- "A Girl Like You" -- due to copyright restrictions, despite the fact that he owned the copyright (Collins wrote this song as the frontman for the defunct band Orange Juice).  Grace Maxwell, Collin's wife and manager, first ran into the bizarre scenario when she tried to post the song to his MySpace page in an effort to promote his work.

She writes in a blog post,"MySpace are not equipped to deal with the notion that anyone other than a major [label] can claim a copyright.  [After trying to upload the song] lo and behold, it would not upload. I was told Edwyn was attempting to breach a copyright and he was sent to the Orwellian MySpace copyright re-education page. Quite chilling, actually."

She adds, "[My husband] owns the copyright.  as he does for most of the music he's recorded in his life (preferring to go it alone than have his music trapped 'in perpetuity' to use the contract language of the major record company)."

Getting to the root of the issue, apparently Warner Music had illegitimately claimed the copyright.  They promised to fix it, but then never did anything. States Maxwell, "I naturally blew my stack and wrote to MySpace on his behalf demanding to know who the hell was claiming copyright of Edwyn's track? ... Eventually, after HUGE difficulty, I was told Warner Music Group were claiming it. I found a nice lawyer guy at Warners, very apologetic, promised to get it sorted, but all these months later it isn't."

She says that over the years her husband's music has been continually ripped off, both my major labels and smaller companies which are legally obligated to pay licensing fees, but "forget" to.  And she says he's not alone.  She states, "[We are] aware of who the biggest bootleggers are.  It's not the filesharers. [A Girl Like You is sold] not by Edwyn, [but] by all sorts of respectable major labels whose licence to sell it ran out years ago and who do not account to him."

She says many smaller independent labels are often just as bad.  The main problem, she says, is that Collins has tried to offer some of his music free to fans, and music labels would rather exploit it for profit, despite the fact that what they're doing is illegal.

She concludes that cheap or free music subscription services are the industry's greatest hope.  Apparently plugging such services as Zune Pass or SpiralFrog, she states, "Now let's get on with working out a wonderful new way for music lovers to enjoy music for free or for a small subscription that makes it legal and easy to hear ANYTHING and allows the artist to reap the rewards of such freedom of access."

That hope, of course, relies on the assumption that the services get who owns the copyright correctly verified in the first place.  One can only hope that these services are better than MySpace at that.



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RE: Oh my
By jimbojimbo on 10/9/2009 10:44:04 AM , Rating: 5
They need to sue Warner for $20k per song that they've sold illegaly. That's the going rate for piracy these days right?

The fact is when someone uploads a song online for free that's one thing but when someone is selling someone else's legal property for profit that's what the legal system should be going after.


RE: Oh my
By gstrickler on 10/9/2009 10:56:23 AM , Rating: 2
Could be more than that, they're doing it for commercial purposes, so the maximum penalties attach. I believe I read that max penalty is $150k per offense, but don't quote me, that's just a vague memory.


RE: Oh my
By greywood on 10/9/2009 11:57:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I believe I read that max penalty is $150k per offense, but don't quote me,


I believe you are right, for "willful" infringement. I think 'willful' is defined as: knowingly and deliberately infringing (even if not for commercial gain).


RE: Oh my
By MrPoletski on 10/12/2009 6:55:36 AM , Rating: 2
this is different with edwyn and more vast though...

how many other pop songs have they relased re-using parts of his work illegally? They are only interested in churning out hits, not refining a beautiful work. Undoubtedly they have nicked drum beats, re-used guitar lines etc.. I expect often as direct 'use this chunk of sound for the backing to the chorus'.

That's a whole hell of a lot of potential, and very difficult to track, abuse of his music far higher in damages worth than any filesharer.

$20k per song is their (BS) figure, if that was a fair figure, then I'd say the fair figure for edwyn would be 100-1000x that amount.


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