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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: alejandro fernandez, contracts, copyright, mexico
Companies: sony music


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Headbhang (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 3:52am

    Now I wonder...

    Would Alejandro Fernández have seen ANY of the royalties generated by the album if he'd allowed the distribution to go on?

    Big labels. Fucking hypocrites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Liquid, 9 Sep 2009 @ 5:18am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Sheet Dawg, 9 Sep 2009 @ 5:42am

        Re: Re: Now I wonder...

        "Then again everyone in this country live out side their means every day..."

        Assumptive truth ... that is the real issue.

        btw ... I see proper English is a bit of a challenge.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Common Sense, 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:30am

        Re: Re: Now I wonder...

        Well, to be honest, if you see a dude working at McDonald's, and he's driving an Escalade and living in a half million dollar house...McDonald's isn't where he gets most of his money. (Hint: He probably sells lots of drugs)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mike allen (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:09am

      Re: Now I wonder...

      What makes you think he got paid when he was with Sony forget after he left.
      They no different to the other major labels they would screw him down to a contract that would mean they got the royalties.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sheinen, 9 Sep 2009 @ 5:00am

    The real issue here is the likelyhood that Sony will get their way, because the corporations invariably fucking do!

    They have big money which they use to bully and beat the rest of the world into giving them more money.

    Welcome to Planet Earth!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ben Zayb, 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:34am

      Re:

      You forget that Alejandro moved to Universal, which has interests in his music too. They probably won't allow Sony to bribe its way out of this.

      Regardless, it's nice to hear about one of the MAFIAA get raided for a change!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2009 @ 7:16am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2009 @ 9:02am

        Re: Re:

        What might end up happening is that the initial court might give a huge fine just to shut us up but then the appellate court might lower the fine to a slap in the wrist after the commotion has died down, something that would never happen to an average Joe Blow of course if he made a similar mistake.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 5:53am

    Haha Sony

    Karma's a bitch.
    You guys so have this and so much more coming to you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    SteveD (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 5:59am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      fishbane, 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:41am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:45am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:52am

      Re: It's a contract dispute, then?

      Mike blogs about copyright. Anything related to copyright, the RIAA, and artist rights piques his interest. Really, how surprising is it that you see another post about copyright, the RIAA, and artist rights?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Avatar28 (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:03am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    maclizard (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:06am

    Sony vs. Joel Tenenbaum

    Hmm, lets see here. Based on these numbers it looks like Sony should be out between 1 and 4 billion dollars.

    I wonder if 80k per song is still reasonable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Flyfish, 9 Sep 2009 @ 6:59am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2009 @ 7:09am

      Re:

      You seem to have missed the point. This isn't an argument about the terms or legality of the contract. It is an illustration that record labels act for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the artist they represent (or in this case formerly represented).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2009 @ 8:21am

      Re:

      I suspect that Alejandro Fernández is in the wrong.

      I suspect you're talking out of your ass.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 10:23am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        SteveD (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 4:34pm

        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?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 10:33pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NullOp, 9 Sep 2009 @ 7:20am

    :=/

    "Artists best interest", nobody from the record industry really said that did they? That is beyond laughable. It is akin to the Catholic church stating of the thousands they killed in the Inquisition, "We had their best interests in mind as we lit the fire or broke them on the rack."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Overcast (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 7:28am

    the police in Mexico raid Sony Music's offices and confiscate the CDs

    hahah, what comes around goes around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Charlie Dahan, 9 Sep 2009 @ 7:58am

    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)).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Luci, 9 Sep 2009 @ 9:38am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matt (profile), 9 Sep 2009 @ 11:14am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thomas Rand, 10 Sep 2009 @ 3:41am

    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/son y_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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.