Two of the three major labels are facing new class-action lawsuits filed in New York, which focus on the right of artists under the so-called ’35-year law’ there. That’s the legislation that in theory allows artists to file Notices of Termination to regain ownership and control of their copyrights 35 years after that music was initially released.
The New York Dolls’ David Johansen, Southside Johnny and Paul Collins are the artists involved in the Sony lawsuit, while John Waite and Joe Ely are named in the UMG lawsuit. “This ‘second chance’ has always been a part of our copyright law. Sony and UMG have refused to acknowledge the validity of any of the Notices, and have completely disregarded the artists’ ownership rights by continuing to exploit those recordings and infringing upon our clients’ copyrights,” said attorney Evan Cohen, who is representing the artists.
“This behaviour must stop. The legal issues in these class action suits have never been decided by a court, and are of paramount importance to the music industry.” The key point being ‘never been decided by a court’ – that points to out-of-court settlements as the likelier conclusion than a ruling.