Musicians: We want our songs back! Copyright Office: Okay, okay!

KWIKA attorney Greg Gabriel was quoted by Variety in Ted Johnson’s article on an obscure provision of the 1976 revision of the Copyright Act that gives authors, including songwriters and other artists, the right to reclaim ownership of their works after 35 years.

Since the starting point for the 35-year period begins at January 1, 1978, the year 2013 is the first year this right can be exercised.  As you might imagine, publishers and record companies are not real happy since it will allow songwriters to get out of the contracts they signed many years ago, and thus divert the publishers’ and record companies’ ongoing income from these works into the pockets of the songwriters.

One notable exception to the right is any work “for hire,” but it’s not clear yet exactly how that will be interpreted.  “I think the big battleground is whether these work-for-hire provisions are going to be valid in these recording contracts,” said Greg.  “That’s the million-dollar question that gives the labels extra leverage.”

Read the Full Article, including Greg’s comments in the 11th paragraph.