The Eagles’ Don Henley Declares “Time Has Come” To Prepare For Battle With Record Labels
"The time has come" for artist to prepare for a potential battle with the record labels, warns The Eagles' Don Henley. While Henley certainly could recite a litany of grievances, the battle he's warning about is the provision in U.S. Copyright Law that could allow musicians to gain control of their masters 35 years after they were released. The clock started ticking in 1978. So in 2013, the major labels could potentially loose the right to release classic 1978 albums from Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and hundreds of others.
A few artists, including Tom Waits, have already filed paperwork warning their former labels that they expect the masters to be returned to them two years from now. But many acts don't understand the law and the labels are already promising a fight.
"We created them, we paid for them – why aren't they ours?," Henley told Rolling Stone. "But the record companies claim ownership and authorship, which is one of the absurd things in a recording contract."
"Record companies insist sound recordings are 'work for hire' and artists are employees of the companies, continued Henley. "Which is a real interesting claim because we don't enjoy any of the benefits or obligations a normal employee would be granted. They don't provide health insurance for us. They don't pay Social Security for us. They don't withhold taxes from our royalty checks. They don't provide us a place of employment. It's a real stretch for the record companies to claim we're employees. We're independent contractors."
"My hope is that artists understand what's at stake and what their rights are," concluded Henley. "I would hope that each and every artist who's made recordings during this period would have a basic knowledge of what's going on here."