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Senator Murray Gives Artist Rights a Boost
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2003-03-08
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The legislative efforts in various states across the nation to enforce fair recording contracts and accountability for royalty payments gained steamed with a series of bills introduced by California Senator Kevin Murray. The senator took a leading role in the artist rights debate through a series of joint hearings to examine artists' long-time grievances held by the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Select Committee on Entertainment Industry, which he chairs. The resulting four bills would implement a host of measures meant to address much-needed improvements in industry practices, from imposing a fiduciary duty on record labels for accurate royalty reporting to revising the much-maligned exemption from California's "Seven Year Rule."

But far from being the last word, the bills are meant as a means of advancing ongoing negotiations between the Recording Artists' Coalition and music labels. Noting a lack of concrete revisions to label policies, despite their publicly announced intentions to streamline royalty practices and eliminate audit restrictions, the legislation is meant to prod record labels to put action behind their words. "The legislation is in place if the parties fail to reach agreement."

More importantly, the legislation will provide artist rights group with an important tool in their discussions by establishing a minimum level of reform that the industry can either accede in private negotiations or be imposed by law. It also provides a blueprint for other state legislators considering how to craft their own solutions. For example, following the joint Senate hearing in California, the NY State Assembly passed it's own artist rights bill limiting the amount of time an artist can be held to a contract.

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