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Assignment of Rights in Radio concerts

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:46 pm
by johne99
Hello to all,
I worked as a sound engineer in UK local radio from 1975 -92 and recorded most of all the live concerts and studio sessions. The bands were paid on the MU Needletime contracts of 2 transmissions and erase.

However the engineering dept saved most of the tapes in archive, and over the years added more. When my job was made redundant in 1992 as part of my payment the MD verbally allowed me to have all recordings (lucky me) as the MD said they would all be placed in the skip as they were of no value.

Since then i have released over 15 concerts via small record companies with payments to happy artists, and good reviews all round.

In early 2015 I thought it might be a good idea to firm up in writing that verbal aggreement with the original MD from 1992, he gladly signed as proof of that deal. Titled "Transfer of ownership and assigment of rights"
It was just a simple A4 explaining the deal with stipulations for record companies to seek other rights / moral rights/credits, and signed by both.

As my floorboads are creaking like my self, I wish to pass on my rights/masters to 2 larger record companies who can make full use of the concerts. But they are unsure to proceed as they say the new "owners" may litigate, and what i have is not proof enough? The station i worked for was Ltd but taken over by a PLC in 1993, then again by another PLC in 2005 before being taken over by Global Media PLC in 2008. The original stations name was ended in 2011, as its now called Capitol.

I did eventually get in touch with a legal at Global, but over the months they appear to be playing hardball with me wanting 50% of any profits, for something they never new exsisted, and not to sure they understand my deal was way before they exsisted.

Others advise I would have a good case, as I have the masters and the MDs proof, and they have nothing

My only other option is to sell the lot on ebay, but then all my hard work archiving for over 42 years would be wasted to the bootleggers.

Any thoughts would be most welcome

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:01 pm
by AndyJ
Hi John,

This sounds (excuse the pun) as if it could be tricky and you may need to consult a specialist music lawyer with all your paperwork.

However it would seem that the key to this is whether the MD had the authority to assign the recordings and their rights to you. Normally I would expect that an MD would have such powers, in which case your letter of assignment should give you full title both to the recordings and the copyright. Since the transfer took place before the Ltd company was taken over, these recordings did not/do not constitute assets of the company which were transferred to the PLC in 1993, and so I cannot see how Global can have any claim to the recordings. However as they are using their legal team, you may need to get your own solicitor to fight your corner.

In an ideal world there should also be copies of the contracts signed by the orchestras/bands/artists giving permission for their performances to be recorded and then broadcast. However given the provenance of the recordings I don't think this is essential. Clearly these were bona fide recordings.

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:18 pm
by johne99
Hi Andy,
Many thanks for your reply, and putting my query into shape.
As still in BECTU (Broadcast Union) I will get in touch with their legals ,and also, many years ago I got in touch with the MU, and they offered to search for a few specific concert contracts..(would this be helpful?). although as pointed out, I am not a member, and it would be a big favour.
It has been suggested I get in touch with Global and ask them to prove they may have retained copyright within the recordings, they knew nothing about.
Its a bit like David and Golieth, as I am still learning to use a sling shot.