Sunday, July 02, 2006

My Hero, Billy Bragg Wins On MySpace

I'd stopped posting poems at MySpace after one of my favorite singer/songwriter's, Dougie MacLean zapped his site following a disclosure and the pulling of his free songs by Billy Bragg, another of my longtime poetic influences and musical heroes. Come visit me and check out Billy & all my friends: poets, artists, thinkers, tinkers & plinkers at my place at MySpace -- but careful, it's addictive.


I am very pleased to see that MySpace have changed their terms of agreement
from a declaration of their rights into a declaration of our rights as artists,
making it clear that, as creators, we retain ownership of our material. Having
been adopted by the biggest social networking site on the block, I hope their
recognition of the right of the artist to be sole exploiter of their own material
now becomes an industry standard because there is much more at stake here
than just the terms and conditions of a website.

In the past, songwriters and performers needed a record company to
manufacture, market and distribute their work, and in exchange for that, the
company expected to own the rights to exploit the recordings for as long as the
material was capable of earning royalties - life of copyright in legalese which
currently means 50 years.

Ive always had a problem with that arrangement, arguing that the recordings
Ive made should provide my pension not that of some record company
executive. In order to achieve this, I have held on to my rights, signing licensing
deals in which ownership of the records reverts to me after a stipulated period,
usually ten years. I figure that if a company cant make their money back after
that time, they dont deserve to put out my records anyway.

Every few years, the reversion clause kicks in, my back catalogue returns to my
ownership and I begin the licensing process all over again. Not only does this
strengthen my hand in contract negotiations, it also allows me to take account
of new technologies in a rapidly changing industry.

Now that the popularity of downloading has made physical manufacturing and
distribution no longer necessary, the next generation of artists will not need to
surrender all of their rights in order to get their music into the marketplace. It is
therefore crucial that they understand, from the moment that they first post
music on the internet, the importance of retaining their long term right to
exploit the material that they create. This is doubly important on a networking
site where many of the songs posted will be by unsigned artists. Ownership of
the rights to such material is somewhat ambiguous. Thats why I hope that the
groundbreaking decision of MySpace to come down on the side of the artists
rights will be followed throughout the industry.

I also welcome the new wording of the terms and conditions in which MySpace
clarify exactly why they require specific rights and how they intend to use them.
Again, I hope more sites follow the lead of MySpace in ensuring the use of clear
and transparent language in contracts. The last thing any of us wants to see is a
situation in which everyone posting a song on the site has to have a lawyer
sitting next to them.

Im glad my music is available to the community again and Im glad that
MySpace chose to act on my concerns. In order that we might avoid any such
confusion in future, can I suggest that MySpace notify its members of any
changes in the terms and conditions whenever they take place.

Billy Bragg

Proprietary Rights in Content on does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") that you post to the MySpace Services. After posting your Content to the MySpace Services, you continue to retain all ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your Content in any way you choose. By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the MySpace Services, you hereby grant to a limited license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on and through the MySpace Services.
Without this license, would be unable to provide the MySpace Services. For example, without the right to modify Member Content, would not be able to digitally compress music files that Members submit or otherwise format Content to satisfy technical requirements, and without the right to publicly perform Member Content, could not allow Users to listen to music posted by Members. The license you grant to is non-exclusive (meaning you are free to license your Content to anyone else in addition to, fully-paid and royalty-free (meaning that is not required to pay you for the use on the MySpace Services of the Content that you post), sublicensable (so that is able to use its affiliates and subcontractors such as Internet content delivery networks to provide the MySpace Services), and worldwide (because the Internet and the MySpace Services are global in reach). This license will terminate at the time you remove your Content from the MySpace Services. The license does not grant the right to sell your Content, nor does the license grant the right to distribute your Content outside of the MySpace Services."

Read more at Billy's blog at MySpace/BillyBragg


Blogger ~^^~Elsie~^^~ said...

Myspace is addicting - i just sent ya an add request. I like that about Billy Bragg - that's an awesome movement.

4/7/06 23:55  

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