Sunday, March 14, 2010

Like Hansel from Zoolander, fighting the iTunes man is “… so hot right now”.

While iTunes faces opposition with Amazon, a new seed of opposition has been sown from within: Pink Floyd is suing EMI over unlawful selling of singles on iTunes instead of selling the album as a whole. (Of course, that would never be a problem on Amazon.)

Apparently, Pink Floyd’s contract with EMI specifically prohibits EMI from “unbundling” the album and selling it in pieces. Although, the time of the contract was 1998 and most certainly not referring specifically to iTunes, it may still prove valid.

Considering an album is arguably an artistic statement and taking a song out of that album might be taking that song out of context, it’s a fairly consistent argument. Also, the legal precedent seems to side with Pink Floyd. For example, a synchronization license is required to put a song in the context of a moving picture. In this synch license, it is imperative that the rights holder approves the context that the song will be put in. In fact, sync licenses usually include a vivid description of the scene or commercial being used and a background of that context so as to avoid any contextual doubt.

It’s a fairly important concept when you consider a porno could be phrased as “a love scene”.

Similarly, a prog-rock album might have six one-minute songs and two twelve-minute songs. Making twenty-four minutes of the album two dollars and the other six minutes of the album six dollars.

So really, it is an issue.

In London (where the lawsuit is taking place), there is a set of Copyright Laws known as “Moral Rights”. Moral Rights put artists’ (be they copyright holder or not) on a pedestal much higher than any American court ever would. I’m no lawyer, but it looks like Pink Floyd might have a pretty serious case against EMI.

A version of the story exists at:

-Ian Gollahon

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