Thanks to a little-known provision in U.S. copyright law, thousands of artists will now have the opportunity to reclaim ownership of their recordings. “Termination rights” revisions will now allow artists to regain control of their work after 35 years—putting hits from 1979 next to fall under the authority of the recently implemented law.
Mid-70s revisions to copyright law granted musicians “termination rights,” which allows artists who apply at least two years in advance to regain control of their work after 35 years.
Last year, hits like Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Kenny Roger’s “Gambler,” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under Groove,” were amongst other tracks from 1978 to fall under the law. In a few months, 1979 hits like The Eagles’ “The Long Run,” and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” may leave the authority of their record labels.
Termination rights have the potential to deal a devastating blow to an already struggling music industry. Lobbying groups have countered with the argument that the labels “employed” the artists, rather than relied on them as independent creators. However, independent copyright experts agree that most objections will have little legal sway, if any.
There is potential for further legal action, and some believe that the case is Supreme-Court worthy. In the absence of a definitive court ruling, artists and labels are simply waiting to see who will blink first in this legal stare down.