Startlingly, musician’s contracts from labels in the 1970s and 1980s didn’t factor in the idea of digitally-distributed music in the future. But does that mean those contracts can’t cover digital distribution of those artists’ music? According to the Helsinki Market Court in Finland, that’s exactly right. The sons of the guitarist from 1970s band Hurriganes have won a case against Universal Music in which they claimed the label did not have the rights to make the band’s music available digitally.
The label must now remove two Hurriganes albums from digital services or face a fine. The big question, though, is whether this will spur similar cases in other countries. “We believe that a large part if not most of the older recorded repertoire from any country now utilised in internet music services worldwide is not sufficiently licensed by the artists,” said Finnish Musicians’ Union president Ahti Vänttinen. “Labels cannot just assume they have the rights, but they have to agree on them with the artists…”