One thing that’s always amazed me is how the record labels ever got away with making it a standard thing that musicians hand over their copyrights to the label entirely. Sure, the labels put up some risk capital and handle part of the business side of things, but to totally give up all of your copyrights? In the tech industry, we’ve got lots of experience with risk capital, but venture capital deals (even as many entrepreneurs bemoan the deal terms) never go as far as record label deals in basically claiming 100% equity ownership in exchange for a piddly royalty (and only after you pay back the initial loan). But, of course, thanks to a broken system, musicians basically had little choice in the past but to sign a record label deal — and with just a few large players in the space, giving away your entire output was considered “standard.”
But, that leads to some troubling results. We’ve already seen how artists have complained about their own works being used in suing fans. These artists feel helpless about this legal campaign that attacks their fans, potentially creating significant problems for any attempt by those musicians to connect with fans and earn a living going forward.
Take, for example, the tragic story of the band All Shall Perish, as chronicled on TorrentFreak. Apparently, the band’s German label handed over the rights to sue to a Panama-based copyright troll who is now suing people in the US, contrary to the band’s own wishes. The band, of course, recognizes that suing dozens of its biggest fans is not a good idea, but seems powerless to stop things.
“The band’s attorney made it clear to the licensing people [at Nuclear Blast Records] that the band wanted no part in lawsuits against fans. The industry is changing, illegal downloading is troublesome for bands and of course, for record labels, but whatever the solution will be – streaming, subscription, Kickstarter, new ways of looking at it entirely, whatever comes about – the band and I are in agreement (as is their lawyer) that SUING MUSIC FANS SURE ISN’T IT,” Downey told TorrentFreak.
Apparently, after a lot of pressure from the band, the label claims it will tell the trolling operation, World Digital Rights, to dismiss the lawsuits. The band is now trying to regain control of its copyrights, and is saying that it would much prefer to protect its fans rather than sue them:
“The band, their attorney and myself have and will continue to take any steps to protect their fans, yes, even those who file trade,” Downey told us. “The band would prefer that their fans legally purchase, stream or otherwise enjoy their music. But they definitely have not, will not and do not wish to sue their fans.”