Bob Marley's Family Lose Copyright Fight

Bob Marley's family have lost a battle with Universal Music Group (UMG) over the ownership of five of the late singer's albums.

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Bob Marley's family have lost a battle with Universal Music Group (UMG) over the ownership of five of the late singer's albums. The legend's wife and sons had accused UMG of intentionally withholding royalties from their Fifty-Six Hope Road Music company, and sought millions in damages over the company's alleged attempts to "exploit" his recordings. They also claimed the firm had failed to consult with them on key licensing decisions, among them the use of Marley's music on ringtones. However a New York court has now ruled that copyrights to "Catch A Fire", "Burnin'", "Natty Dread", "Rastaman Vibrations" and "Exodus", which were all recorded with his band The Wailers between 1973 and 1977, entitled UMG to be designated the owner of those recordings. Judge Denise Cote said Marley's recordings were "works made for hire" as defined under US copyright law, reports BBC News. Marley was born in Jamaica in 1945, he died of cancer at the age of 36 in the US in 1981. Thanks for the report to Nme.com.

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    Sid McCall
    aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal.
    jesuswalked2008
    Not many people these days know what Marley was about, all he is associated with is weed which is true but kinda sad."[quote]SmittyMan90 wrote: you obviously missed the message in Marley's music altogether you ignorant piece of Shmit.
    hanselrocks1
    CaliforniaKid wrote: Sid McCall wrote: aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal. You must be a republican. Ya think Marley was aware that he was signing away the copyrights to his songs? Doubtful. Do you think he was taken advantage of by people who sought to rip him off? Probably. If you were a member of his family, you sure as hell would think its a travesty. Legal...sure, but fair? Not even a little.
    whats republican got to do with it...you are obviously a LIBERAL sux for the family but its not like they cant hear his music, sure its disgraceful but its completely legal
    vans1170
    record labels suck, i'm sorry for all the artists from the 20's to present that had to deal with all this crap because there was no other option.
    Lemoninfluence
    CaliforniaKid wrote: Sid McCall wrote: aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal. You must be a republican. Ya think Marley was aware that he was signing away the copyrights to his songs? Doubtful. Do you think he was taken advantage of by people who sought to rip him off? Probably. If you were a member of his family, you sure as hell would think its a travesty. Legal...sure, but fair? Not even a little.
    It's not as if he was new to the business. He'd released albums before this and if his manager/lawyer didn't explain to him what was in the contract, then they're to blame. checked
    RockInPeaceDime
    I don't understand the complacency with "it's disgraceful, but it's legal" and other sorts of comments. If it's "disgraceful," that implies it is somehow wrong on an ethical level. Which means the legal details need to be changed, not accepted.
    Lemoninfluence
    vans1170 wrote: record labels suck, i'm sorry for all the artists from the 20's to present that had to deal with all this crap because there was no other option.
    there were other options. Not sign a professional contract and just tour. Let's not be naive here. People sign those contracts because they want something the record label is offering. POSTED: 09/14/2010 - 08:41 pm
    {Dude,itsabass}
    CaliforniaKid wrote: Sid McCall wrote: aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal. You must be a republican. Ya think Marley was aware that he was signing away the copyrights to his songs? Doubtful. Do you think he was taken advantage of by people who sought to rip him off? Probably. If you were a member of his family, you sure as hell would think its a travesty. Legal...sure, but fair? Not even a little. whats republican got to do with it...you are obviously a LIBERAL hahahaha he got owned that sux ffor his family but shit happens i guess
    espChris93
    I still doubt his family is starving and this is all legal and fair as said above, but still its the meaning of whats happening to his music. Although Marley himself could of been well aware of this and just wanted to make some great music. He wasnt necassarily a money focused musician.
    GNiCk89
    As long as Marley's music is heard and the herb be burned, everything is irie.
    Second Rate
    CaliforniaKid wrote: Sid McCall wrote: aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal. You must be a republican. Ya think Marley was aware that he was signing away the copyrights to his songs? Doubtful. Do you think he was taken advantage of by people who sought to rip him off? Probably. If you were a member of his family, you sure as hell would think its a travesty. Legal...sure, but fair? Not even a little.
    Don't most people read and/or negotiate contracts before signing them? I'm pretty sure the answer is yes. In that event, it was perfectly fair. Sucks for his family, but I'm sure he knew what he was signing.
    Misfit-FTB
    GNiCk89 wrote: As long as Marley's music is heard and the herb be burned, everything is irie.
    This.
    CaliforniaKid
    Lemoninfluence wrote: vans1170 wrote: record labels suck, i'm sorry for all the artists from the 20's to present that had to deal with all this crap because there was no other option. there were other options. Not sign a professional contract and just tour. Let's not be naive here. People sign those contracts because they want something the record label is offering. POSTED: 09/14/2010 - 08:41 pm
    Artists rely on their lawyers/managers to negotiate on their behalf. The mistake that many artists have made is to trust these people, because oftentimes they're only out for their own best interest...not unlike Goldman Sachs.
    Lemoninfluence wrote: CaliforniaKid wrote: Sid McCall wrote: aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal. You must be a republican. Ya think Marley was aware that he was signing away the copyrights to his songs? Doubtful. Do you think he was taken advantage of by people who sought to rip him off? Probably. If you were a member of his family, you sure as hell would think its a travesty. Legal...sure, but fair? Not even a little. It's not as if he was new to the business. He'd released albums before this and if his manager/lawyer didn't explain to him what was in the contract, then they're to blame. checked
    Bingo.
    benjs
    UMG did nothing wrong, it's just the reality of the time that Bob Marley would have only been able to land a deal, given his background and sound, had he designated his music as works made for hire. That said, however, it's seriously tragic that someone who can put so much into his music, and remain with so little.
    master
    Mr_Dobolina wrote: It just goes to show how corrupt business practices can be as long as they're operating under the guise of "legality".
    It's not corruption. It's simply business like you mentioned, and the primary goal of a business is to make money. That's the difference between music and the music industry. Bob Marley played music for the sake of playing music and the label signed him for the sake of money. In the end they both won because Bob was able to share his music with the world and the label made bank. They both used each other for what they wanted imo.
    CaliforniaKid
    Sid McCall wrote: aaaand cue little snot nosed 15 year old stoners who think this was some sort of travesty. He clearly signed a contract designating his music as works for hire, and now this is where it got his family. It happens, and it sucks, but it's fair and legal.
    You must be a republican. Ya think Marley was aware that he was signing away the copyrights to his songs? Doubtful. Do you think he was taken advantage of by people who sought to rip him off? Probably. If you were a member of his family, you sure as hell would think its a travesty. Legal...sure, but fair? Not even a little.
    CerpinTaxt
    Wow. I can't believe Bob Marley was under a works-made-for-hire deal. I can only imagine that foul play was afoot when it came to signing him to UMG for those albums.
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    bass ackwards. musicians (and close personal affiliates thereof) ought to always own rights to their music. unless the guy's a composer or something.
    Sid McCall
    That's not foul play, and the label probably tried that with everyone back in the day. He should have read the contract better, or maybe he didn't mind, or maybe he just got a really good deal. Not necessarily foul play, that doesn't hold up in court.
    CerpinTaxt
    What I mean is that an artist of Marley's caliber signing as a work-for-hire implies, like you said, that he didn't read the contract well enough. Think about how many great acts that's happened to, beyond the work-for-hire scenario. What it shows is how willing labels were to leave artists blissfully unaware of what they were really signing away...
    Tempo511
    It's so sad to see arguments over money when it comes to Bob's music. Clearly these people didn't listen to any of the beautiful words he spoke.
    Zeppelin Addict
    ChazBcWarlock wrote: what is works made for hire?
    he writes for the company (UMG) instead of under his own name while being funded by the company. which explains that after his passing UMG would keep his music and not leave it to the marley name as it never was copyrighted under the marley name in the first place. bob wouldve obviously benefited form sales and royalties, but that ends with his death.. a different example would be like that of jimi hendrix, who still has the majority of his work in the family name as he never worked for hire.
    Mr_Dobolina
    It's ironic how record companies have been screwing artists and fans alike for decades, then as soon as pirating starts taking the gas out of their Bentley's, they flip their lids. Not taking sides on the pirating issues, but it's still funny how quick they are. It just goes to show how corrupt business practices can be as long as they're operating under the guise of "legality".
    SmittyMan90
    Not many people these days know what Marley was about, all he is associated with is weed which is true but kinda sad.
    ethic
    CerpinTaxt wrote: What I mean is that an artist of Marley's caliber signing as a work-for-hire implies, like you said, that he didn't read the contract well enough. Think about how many great acts that's happened to, beyond the work-for-hire scenario. What it shows is how willing labels were to leave artists blissfully unaware of what they were really signing away...
    But at the same time, without the support (signing bonus, marketing, payola) from the label, nobody would have ever heard of Bob Marley (or any other big band from that time). Bob Marley did well financially. His estate was worth $30 million at the time of his death. He did not get screwed over.
    ethic
    Tempo511 wrote: It's so sad to see arguments over money when it comes to Bob's music. Clearly these people didn't listen to any of the beautiful words he spoke.
    I'm more upset about his music being trivialized down to ringtones. It's a bloody disgrace. It's like using the Mona Lisa as a handkerchief.
    Sirwinston89
    Shitty, but thats the deal folks. So he was a basically a studio musician frontman, and namesake, for the group. Thats a new one.
    rocker222
    ethic wrote: Tempo511 wrote: It's so sad to see arguments over money when it comes to Bob's music. Clearly these people didn't listen to any of the beautiful words he spoke. I'm more upset about his music being trivialized down to ringtones. It's a bloody disgrace. It's like using the Mona Lisa as a handkerchief.
    and an amazing handkerchief it would be, my snot would be so happy.
    snaaake
    vIsIbleNoIsE wrote: bass ackwards. musicians (and close personal affiliates thereof) ought to always own rights to their music. unless the guy's a composer or something.
    Why shouldn't a composer, the writer of a piece of music, own that music under your previous logic? In theory, I agree with you. (In practice it doesn't work that way, and I understand why Marley's family lost the case.) I'm just curious how you figure a composer shouldn't own a song that they wrote themselves.
    Dellboy31212
    Just remember the Marley family is far from poor. Don't feel too bad. He signed a contract.
    McNuttynz
    This does suck for his family, but he did sign a contract and his family disputed it and lost. idoits
    rain-man
    I think Bob Marley would've been disappointed that his family decided to make this huge fuss over money. I'm pretty sure what was going through his mind when he signed was "Let me make some good music," and he did so. And his name's gonna be on everything they release, cuz he, y'know, wrote it. In short,
    GNiCk89 wrote: As long as Marley's music is heard and the herb be burned, everything is irie.
    is win.