Artist Rights Alliance Executive Board Statement In Support Of Artists Demanding Termination Rights Be Honored

The Artist Rights Alliance (ARA) Executive Board released the following statement standing with the artists who are demanding their termination rights under the Copyright Act be honored:

Recently, several featured artists filed a class action lawsuit against Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment challenging the labels’ stonewalling of artist efforts to reclaim rights to their work they are owed under law. We strongly support the artists in this case and the right of all creators to reclaim control of their work as permitted by federal Copyright law.

It is beyond dispute that the Copyright Act of 1976 allows artists to take back full ownership of their works 35 years after release. However, it appears that in too many cases artists attempting to exercise this right have been met with evasion, foot dragging, or unfounded rejection of their claims altogether.

Artists sacrifice so much to bring their music into the world. Time, money, and care are all given in pursuit of great music. They are often obliged to accept almost any deal that comes along in the early days of their career when any opportunity to be heard feels priceless.

The federally guaranteed power to terminate grants of copyright ownership and reclaim personal rights to work is one of very few protections we have — a guarantee that, eventually, regardless of the vagaries of label contracts, we will eventually have full rights to and control over our art and its long-term legacy.

We don’t question the value of labels or the vital role they play in launching artistic careers. But they are well paid for these efforts. Fundamentally, however, as Congress has recognized, at some point featured artists must have full ownership and control of the rights to their own work. No one pursues their passion hoping to enter perpetual indentured servitude and no artist can be impelled to contract away the inescapable tie between a creator and his or her expressive work.

We’ve proudly partnered with labels in our careers and our advocacy and we respect their contribution to the music ecosystem immensely. But this is not how partners treat each other. Labels must treat us and our art with respect and dignity — now and 35 years from now.

We stand in solidarity with the artists filing these lawsuits and hope this injustice is remedied immediately and that all record labels commit to honoring artist termination rights in the future.

Signed: Rosanne Cash, Tommy Manzi, John McCrea, Tift Merritt, Matthew Montfort, and Maggie Vail

Artists looking to learn more about termination of rights issues can learn more here or here.

Artist-run, non-profit advocating for musicians, performers, & songwriters in the digital landscape. (Formerly the Content Creators Coalition or “c3”)

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