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Record Labels Prepare to Battle Artists Over Song Rights

Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt

After a decade of getting pounded by piracy, record labels are about to receive an ass kicking from a new, unlikely foe: the artists who've made them rich. The carnage is set to begin on January 1, 2013, when a new copyright law that went into effect in 1978 will allow musicians and songwriters to reclaim ownership of their recordings. Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and Billy Joel’s 52nd Street are two of the biggest albums in the first batch eligible for musicians to reclaim. In order to take back the rights, artists must file paperwork two years in advance, something that Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Bryan Adams, among others, have already done. Of course, record companies aren't planning to just hand over ownership of the works that are keeping them afloat. The always villainous RIAA is arguing that musicians and songwriters worked as employees, not independent contractors, when the recordings were made, so the rights to the music belongs to the labels forever. Artists, who are eager to actually own the music that they created, disagree. And lawyers? Well, they don't really care who wins because they're going to make tons of money off this no matter what.

Record Industry Braces for Artists’ Battles Over Song Rights [NYT]

Photo: R. Diamond/WireImage