Singer Claims Sony Music 'Pirated' His Songs; Has Police Raid Their Offices

from the all-for-the-artists... dept

One thing that’s consistent throughout all of the stories we see concerning the recording industry trying to support its position in lawsuits, and in front of politicians, the press and the public, is that it’s doing all of this to help the “artists” it represents. Of course, that’s laughable, given just how many stories we’ve seen of artists screwed over by the major labels. The record labels have never represented the artists’ best interests. For yet another example, we head south of the border, where Alejandro Fernandez is claiming that Sony Music “pirated” his music. He used to have a contract with Sony, but when he completed that contract, he moved over to Universal Music. Yet, Sony still prepared to put out a CD of “unreleased material” by Fernandez. Fernandez claims that the works are unauthorized, and even had the police in Mexico raid Sony Music’s offices and confiscate the CDs.

All in all, this comes down to a basic contract dispute. Sony Music claims that it has the right to do whatever it wants with any music recorded under the contract. Fernandez claims the rights were limited to seven albums — which were all done — and do not extend to material that went unreleased. This sounds similar to the dispute last month, where Morrissey told fans not to buy a new box set that EMI was putting out. Either way, it’s yet another example that labels’ interests and artists’ interests are not aligned.

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Companies: sony music

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Comments on “Singer Claims Sony Music 'Pirated' His Songs; Has Police Raid Their Offices”

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29 Comments
Liquid says:

Re: Now I wonder...

One would think he would, but that would be a pipedream at best. To think that someone would actually get paid for work they did after they left a label is ludacris. Any label or buisness would see that as a 100% profit, because the original artist is no longer employed by them. Just another way for these high end record execs to live above their means. Then again everyone in this country live out side their means every day… thats why you see the dude working at McDonalds driving around an a Escalade, and living in a 1/4 to 1/2 a milltion dollar home. Capitolism isn’t it wonderful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It wouldn’t surprise me if Sony did get its way and it would be just another example of the government playing corporate favoritism. If a regular person did something like this it would be breach of contract, copyright infringement, and every other violation you can imagine and the fine would exceed our GDP. But when a big corporation does it the consequences would turn out to be a slap on the wrist if they even get punished at all.

SteveD (profile) says:

It's a contract dispute, then?

Not to get short with Mike, but is there really much of interest to this story?

That two parties that undertake a contract together want different things is part of a contracts purpose. That afterwards the two parties fight over how the resulting assets are split is hardly unusual.

A label and an artist having ‘unaligned interests’ should be obvious; so do many people who enter into contracts. It doesn’t mean there is anything sinister or unusual to it.

fishbane (profile) says:

Re: It's a contract dispute, then?

I can’t speak for others, but if there’s interest in labels, labels’ use of artists as human shields in policy disputes, artists’ complaints about labels, the changing market for both, then a datapoint-story seems like a perfectly reasonable thing about which to run a a short blog post.

Or to look at it differently, this will be the 12th comment on an apparently uninteresting-to-SteveD story, to which SteveD also commented, unless someone slides one in before I finish typing this.

Also, meta.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: It's a contract dispute, then?

Good to be back from my bout with swine flu given to me by government agents attempting to kill me. Anyway:

“Not to get short with Mike, but is there really much of interest to this story?”

Yes. Labels say they want to help artists. Labels hurt artists. Ergo, labels lie. We can then assume they are also lying about other stuff, like, oh I don’t know, every statistic they talk about.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

payback's a bitch

While normally I would consider having the police raid somebody’s offices over a copyright dispute to be a bit over the top, how many times have we criticized RIAA et al for similar tactics, in this case I can’t help but think that there’s a certain amount of justice in it. Now if only we could get that happening more often maybe we could teach them a lesson.

Flyfish says:

I suspect that Alejandro Fernández is in the wrong. Typical contract states the right to release anything recorded while under contract. People familiar with the industry would understand this. As I recall ZZ Top had a dispute with London Records and spent a couple years in Europe, not playing together and not recording anything.

It might suck, but that’s a standard contract, but we wouldn’t want anything like contract law to get in Mike’s way as he rails against a business model he finds obsolete.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It might suck, but that’s a standard contract, but we wouldn’t want anything like contract law to get in Mike’s way as he rails against a business model he finds obsolete.

I thought I was pretty clear in the post that I believe this is a contract dispute.

You act as if I ignored that, when I did not (though, many of the other stories about this topic did ignore it).

But, the point that I was making — which I thought was more interesting — is that it shows how the interests of the labels and the artists often diverge. Are you denying that, or are you just trying do distract by trying to make this about something that I didn’t say?

SteveD (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“But, the point that I was making — which I thought was more interesting — is that it shows how the interests of the labels and the artists often diverge.”

My problem with this is I disagree on it being interesting; it almost seems like stating the obvious. Such interests can diverge just as they do in every form of business contract.

But perhaps this isn’t what really bugs me. I think that might be the title, and a comment-threat full of people gloating over the ‘evil record companies’.

What has Techdirt become?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

My problem with this is I disagree on it being interesting; it almost seems like stating the obvious. Such interests can diverge just as they do in every form of business contract.

Indeed. But it highlights the separation here. The issue is that the labels often claim that they represent artists. I think it’s worth reminding people that’s not true.

Charlie Dahan (profile) says:

HIs contract

Though I am so pro-artist, I can assure you that the label has a contract with him that says they have the right to all material he recorded during that time and received an advance and some kind of royalty structure.

It sucks, but no one made him sign that contract and he should do the right thing and honor his contract, just as the label should (which I am sure they have violated the terms in some way(s)).

Luci says:

Re: HIs contract

Let’s get one thing out, first: Unless you have a copy of the contract available to you, you cannot assure us of anything.

We have to wait for more information on this before we can really say one way or the other. Sony has says they have rights to the music. The artist’s lawyer states that isn’t in the previous contract. Up to the courts at this point.

Matt (profile) says:

Re: HIs contract

If you are right that Sony violated the contract, then there was no further contract. A prior breach by one party excuses future performance by the other. If, for instance, Sony failed to pay royalties the artist was owed then the artist could refuse to permit copying and distribution of his copyrighted works.

To me, the interesting question is who owns the copyright in these songs. If they were created as works made for hire, then Sony does. If they were created as works for the artist subject to a prior assignment to Sony, then a whole new family of issues arises. For instance, if the contract is governed by California contract law or is enforceable in the federal courts located in California, prior assignments may themselves be unenforceable.

In other words, notwithstanding any contract it seems possible to me that the artist is on solid ground. It will depend on a lot of facts that the story does not reveal.

Thomas Rand (profile) says:

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME SONY HAVE RIPPED OFF AN ARTIST!

firstly i want to make it clear I am just a consumer/pirate/fan

ok here is the link to the full story:
http://www.renegaderhythms.com/home.html?main=http://www.renegaderhythms.com/articles/ur/sony_correspondence.html#121099

i have no doubt that this will continue in the future and regardless of who they do this to they will always try to force themselves onto any thing they think will make money

BOYCOTT THE BIG BUSINESS
ALL MUSICIANS NEED TO GO INDEPENDENT
NEW TECHNOLOGY WILL NEVER DIE NOR WILL IT BOW DOWN TO CORPORATE PRESSURE
FILE SHARERS ARE NOT THIEVES

MIDDLE FINGER UP TO THEM ALL

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