A little suggestion for a business opportunity

A piece about how various singers and songwriters are getting screwed out of their royalties.

Brice is not the only featured artist to have had such problems with Fragma. Kirsty Hawkshaw, former frontperson of Opus III, who\’s hit It\’s a Fine Day went to No 2 in the UK charts in 1992, co-wrote and sang Fragma\’s Radio Waves, but hasn\’t received any royalties for it. \”They never signed a contract with me,\” she says.

Hawkshaw wrote to iTunes about the dispute, and it promptly took the track down, but she says she has no money to hire a lawyer. Like many other artists I\’ve spoken to, she also fears being threatened and blacklisted for speaking out.

There\’s a wonderful opportunity here for some aggressive young thing that understands accounting and a bit of copyright law. It\’s actually the sort of thing I\’d love to do if it weren\’t for the fact that I\’m already doing two other things. Sign up the singers and songwriters on a percentage of recovery basis and then go monster the DJs, record companies and rights organisations.

For copyright law (and songwriting which is copyright) works the other way around from the way these people seem to think.

You do not need to have a contract in order to be paid royalties: quite the opposite in fact. You can have a contract that states that you\’ve simply done work for hire and that you\’re not due royalties. You can also have a contract that says you\’ve assigned royalties. But in the absence of a contract that work is yours: you don\’t have to have a contract for that to be true. The act of creation makes it yours. It\’s the absence of a contract that makes it easier to assert that you are due the payments.

So it is with mash ups. That someone lifted a vocal or tune without a contract does not mean that they don\’t owe you: it means that they definitively do owe you for there is no contract to state that they\’ve bought out your rights.

There\’s a very cute little business in there for someone.

6 comments on “A little suggestion for a business opportunity

  1. Hmmm… I did hear that at least some of the music played in McDonalds and Wilkinsons does not generate royalties for the bands concerned.

  2. Martin, probably because such musac is re-recorded by different people to the band you think played it. The writer will still get something, but the band won’t. It’s better to be a song writer than a song player.

  3. Gah … am sure you can work the link out. Wonder why my phone inserted a space when I pressed the post button.

  4. Tim writes that he’s “already doing two other things”. As one of these is, most likely, recovering scandium from slag heaps, how does he feel about the news that big operators are expecting to lift nodules of manganese and “rare earth minerals used in electronics” straight off the bed of the ocean.(see Google Deep Sea mining may turn Cook Islands into one of the world’s richest nations) He told me on here that this could n’t happen last time the story came up. Perhaps he could campaign on the pollution angle: like he does n’t do over fracking .

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