The Copyright Act of 1976 is a fairly obscure law to most people, but it’s about to become very, very important to everyone involved.
See, the Act has this provision for recordings where, for songs released after 1978, after 35 years, the artist can choose whether or not to terminate the copyright, which would essentially return all rights to the song to the artist.
Needless to say, this has a lot of musicians fairly eager to collect on the billions in royalties some of them have spent decades getting screwed out of. Labels, meanwhile, would like to keep screwing the artists, because, well, imagine for a minute what would happen if they started losing the rights to albums like “Thriller.”
So, how is iTunes involved? Apparently one of the end runs around the law the record labels are trying is a “mastered for iTunes” dodge wherein they change the recording enough to hold their own copyright. And probably stiff the musician entirely.
It won’t work: the labels will have to go to court. But it gives you an idea of just how much uglier the copyright situation can already get.
(Image via Chazlarson on Flickr)