By: Spacelab Research Staff
Billy Bragg has freaked out and closed down the streaming music part of his MySpace page after looking at some fine print in the legal agreement.
It seems that the agreement that everyone agrees to in putting their music on MySpace allows MySpace and it's owners, News Corp (Rupert Murdoch) to use any of the content in any variety of ways, including public performances. This agreement is effective until the artist removes the music from their MySpace page.
This could mean that MySpace holds the right to use the music to promote MySpace, as in advertisements or other companies owned by New Corp. Ha! Your band could be the next soundtrack for FOX News!
This of course has set off a chain of reactionary Rupert Murdoch-bashing, and as fun as that may be, Billy Bragg did post this info before talking to a lawyer, so we'll have to wait and see what the legal view is after the lawyers start lawyering. Mr Bragg is still also keeping his MySpace page intact while the music has been taken out, so I guess he's OK with MySpace pimping his photos and videos, just not his music.
Also interesting is the quote from MySpace representative Jeff Berman, as it appeared in Music Week, "MySpace is not seeking a license to do anything with an artist's work other than allow it to be shared in the manner the artist intends. Putting music on MySpace does not give us the right to sell it -- the musicians own their content and can do with it as they wish. Musicians from garage bands to the Black Eyed Peas and Madonna put their music on MySpace and are protected exactly the same way. We don't own their music or do anything with it that they don't want."
Mr. Berman has also completely avoided the issue of whether MySpace is holding the right to use the music in advertising or other News Corp ventures. He just said that they won't sell the songs.
And now, there seems to be a storm brewing over who gets to use what. In classic knee-jerk reactionary form, MySpace has become fearful of public reponse and started speaking publicly about the 'revisions' they're making to the clause that they defended. In speaking to New York Daily News, Jeff Berman said "Because the legalese has caused some confusion, we are at work revising it to make it very clear that MySpace is not seeking a license to do anything with an artist's work other than allow it to be shared in the manner the artist intends." So there was nothing wrong with it before, but they're going to change it all the same. He also avoided stating a clear definition of what News Corp can do with the music.
Google and Microsoft have encountered similiar concerns over the 'ambiguous ownership' issue in the past with free email agreements, when users thought that membership agreements would allow those companies to own anything that was sent in an email that passed through one of their mail servers. There was never anybody who said that those companies stole one their ideas out of an email, but they changed their membership agreements too.
So if you want to allow MySpace and News Corp to to use your stuff, put your stuff on their server, and if not, don't do it. It seems a bit straight forward, but look at the offending part of the agreement and judge for yourself:
"By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content, messages, text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, profiles, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") on or through the Services, you hereby grant to MySpace.com, a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on and through the Services. This license will terminate at the time you remove such Content from the Services. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a back-up or residual copy of the Content posted by you may remain on the MySpace.com servers after you have removed the Content from the Services, and MySpace.com retains the rights to those copies."