Tag Archives: Petition

Duran Loses Court Case

Duran Duran normally does not make headlines.  Yet, many online publications this week included articles about how Duran Duran lost their case over regaining copyrights of their first three albums.  The UK High Court of Justice ruled against Duran and for Sony/ATV.

In the U.S., artists can terminate copyrights they assigned to companies after 35 years so that artists can make money later in life over earlier works.  When Duran tried to do that in 2014, Sony Music/ATV (the band’s publisher) filed suit against them, arguing that the agreement between them is solely subject to British law, which is way different than U.S. law.  In the UK, the company would retain copyrights for the life of the artist plus 70 year.  The judge ruled in favor of Sony, saying that the band violated terms of their contract.  If you would like to read details about the case, you can read about it here or here.

The band did not remain silent about the decision.  In these news articles, Nick commented about how they signed these deals when they were kids and didn’t know any better.  On top of that, this decision overrides their rights in another country.  The band also released a statement on their official website:

For immediate release 

DURAN DURAN STATEMENT: HIGH COURT COPYRIGHT JUDGMENT

London, 2 December 2016: Members of the iconic band Duran Duran were deeply disappointed to learn of today’s judgment, concerned as they are for the implication for their songwriting peers around the world.

Currently, publishers in the UK can benefit from the global success of some of their songwriters from the very beginning of their careers until 70 years after their death. Nowadays, for good reason, songwriters very rarely accept such agreements that give huge corporations rights in perpetuity, but in the 1970s/80s this was not unusual. In 1976, in America, lawmakers ruled to redress this balance in favour of those in the artistic community, allowing US rights to revert after 35 years. 

That Duran Duran is entitled to get its early copyrights back in America after 35 years under US law is not contested. Yet English contract law is now being used by SonyATV to overturn these US rights. This flies in the face of a US Federal statute which prevents a contract being used to avoid returning rights to the creators, which is why Duran Duran is particularly surprised and disappointed by this judgment. 

Founding member and keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: “We signed a Publishing Agreement as unsuspecting teenagers, over three decades ago, when just starting out and when we knew no better. Today, we are told that language in that Agreement allows our long-time publishers, SonyATV, to override our statutory rights under US law. This gives wealthy publishing companies carte blanche to take advantage of the songwriters who built their fortune over many years, and strips songwriters of their right to rebalance this reward. We are shocked that English contract law is being used to overturn artists’ rights in another territory. If left untested, this judgment sets a very bad precedent for all songwriters of our era and so we are deciding how properly to proceed.”

Simon Le Bon added: “What artist would ever want to sign to a company like SonyATV as this is how they treat songwriters with whom they have enjoyed tremendous success for many years. We issued termination notices for our copyrights in the US believing it simply a formality. After all, it’s the law in America. SonyATV has earned a tremendous amount of money from us over the years. Working to find a way to do us out of our rights feels like the ugly and old-fashioned face of imperialist, corporate greed. I thought the acceptability of this type of treatment of artists was long gone – but it seems I was wrong. SonyATV’s conduct has left a bitter taste with us for sure, and I know that other artists in similar positions will be as outraged and saddened as we are. We are hopeful this judgment will not be allowed to stand.”

ENDS

Clearly, the ramifications for this decision goes beyond Duran Duran.  It can include other artists, including peers who signed similar deals around the same time but also those who will sign or will not sign deals now and in the future because of this.

What fascinates me is the response of the fans.  While some expressed sadness that the band signed a deal like they did, many were angry at what they perceived as Sony’s corporate greed.  Some fans chose to start a petition demanding that Sony give Duran Duran back the rights to their songs.  If you want to sign, you can sign it here!  While my feelings screamed frustration, I smiled at the strong level of support that the band has from fans.  Duranies did not just sit back but are trying to openly advocate for them and their rights.  That makes me proud to be part of this fan base, for sure.

-A

 

Somebody Else Took His Place and Cried, “I’m a blackstar!”

Has anyone seen the petition going around to stop Kanye West from recording a David Bowie tribute album?

I’ve seen the petition circulating, and while I admit I chuckled at the very idea, I also didn’t consider signing, even for a short second.

Let’s consider what music really is, to begin. Music is a performing or performance art. Whether one is writing the music, performing it, or doing both – art is being created. So then, what’s art? Merriam-Webster says it’s something that is created with imagination and skill; and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.  Herein the struggle lies, and why music and art critics (and appraisers and/or valuation experts) have jobs…who decides what counts as imaginative, or skillful? How about beauty? It’s all pure opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. Sure, there are certain foundations of art that have been (mostly) agreed upon by the masses over the years, even so, it still comes down to basic opinion…and oddly, that opinion can change over time!

Before I continue, let me be forthright: I am not a fan of Kanye West. Unlike many, I don’t find his art to be particularly…well….good. It doesn’t bother me that all members of Duran Duran like him, or that Mr. Hudson worked with him in the past and apparently uttered the words, “Kanye-approved” at least a few times during the recording of Paper Gods. I’m gonna let that go for now. The point is, his work isn’t of my interest, and as someone pointed out last night, he’s gotten along just fine without me to this point…and I him, I might add. That said, like it or not, it’s still art…and my opinion of him is just that. He still has the right to create.

Which leads me to this: who are we to decide what IS or is NOT worthy of being created? That is a very different thing from deciding not to support one artist or another…we are talking about a petition that is saying someone doesn’t even (or shouldn’t even) have the right to create. Who is to say it wouldn’t be another artist or band next…because once that floodgate is opened….who is really going to be able to shut it?

I have no doubt that the person who created this petition didn’t really think it through. In fact, I’d love to find them and interview them for Daily Duranie because I think there’s much to be learned from a short, colorful trip through that person’s head. I’m sure that person, likely a huge fan of David Bowie’s, stood back, shook his head at the idea of Kanye recording a tribute, using David Bowie’s music, and said, “No way.”  I can understand at least that much. After all, I lived through the comments from fans about a certain Duran Duran tribute album last year as I promoted the work here on the blog. People seem to get their knickers in a twist when art they love is reimagined into something entirely different. The trouble is, who are we really to decide what and/or who is worthy to reimagine or become a part of the conversation?? And…if that alone doesn’t grab you, let me stir the pot in another way: What if it were Duran Duran?  Just imagine a scenario where someone decided they were sick of Duran Duran, and didn’t want them to ever cover another David Bowie song, and started a petition?  Here’s the thing: once we allow a petition like this to happen for one artist, it could happen for anyone, anywhere. There would be petitions popping up everywhere limiting who or what could be created or recreated, and instead of art being organically sculpted by the imagination in one’s head – the opposite would be happening. Organizations would be deciding what might be more pleasing to the masses and encouraging that kind of art and perhaps not allowing others. Fascinating.  Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar to what labels already do???

Interesting.

One more thought – what about David Bowie himself? After all, it is his work we’re talking about, isn’t it? Would David Bowie want a petition to decide who and when his work could be used as inspiration? I doubt it. I highly, highly doubt it. After all, above all else, David Bowie was an artist. A creator. For much of his career, his own work was criticized and known to shock. That’s what art DOES. It provokes a profoundly deep, emotional response.  This petition is effectively saying that after his death, we agree to put his work on a pedestal and not allow anyone else to enter into that narrative unless agreed upon by the masses. That, my friends, is the opposite of art.

This just isn’t a bus I’m getting on. At the precise moment we as a society decide that we have the right to tell someone what kind of art they can create, we’ve completely lost the full definition of what art really IS. If one really wants their voice heard, don’t buy the album – should it really happen, don’t support Kanye West as an artist if one so chooses…but don’t stop someone from being creative, and certainly not in the name of David Bowie.

-R