Confirmed: the music industry is shady.
Sony is currently under fire for not helping dissolve the contract between Kesha and their imprint label Kemosabe Records which Dr. Luke oversees, and now NBC is the next dominating force with overzealous demands.
Adam Levine is producing a Voice spin-off reality TV series that focuses on songwriters called Songland. The competition asked writers to submit a song they wrote for a chance to be considered, but many of them skipped the fine print in the contracts they signed. Entertainment lawyer Wallace Collins issued an “urgent warning” to the contestants to think twice, noting NBC's deal says: “NBC will own all rights to use and exploit all of your songs involved in the show including the songs you submit in the initial application.”
Meaning, you could have written the greatest song in the history of ever, but if you submitted it to NBC for the show and it makes a billion dollars, you won't see a dime.
The excerpt in question was obtained by The Wrap and says:
I represent and warrant that I own all rights to such Music and that no third party has any right, title or interest in and/or to the Music, and I grant Producer the right to record, reproduce and publicly perform any such music in and in connection with the Program or any other work. Without in any way limiting the waivers and releases set forth herein, I waive any claims to royalties of any kind, whether accruing now or in the future, from Producer and NBCUniversal for the use of any such Music or any other music, including, without limitation, any applicable copyright, public performance, mechanical and synchronization royalties.
“I don’t know what they really want to do. I’m just pointing out what it says,” Collins told TheWrap on Saturday. “I’m a lawyer. I’m reading the language and I’m explaining what that language says. It just says that.”
What's most problematic is the “Songland” casting website claimed all contestants “will keep intact all Trademark, copyright, and other intellectual property notices.”
Collins added the contract was “by far one of the most onerous such television contest submission agreements” he's come across because it demands possession over the entire song versus a one-off performance.
“The difference here is when you’re just going to perform on a show, you give a performance and they capture it, and so they can use it, but you can perform again tomorrow the same song, not for them, and you’re free to do it,” Collins explained. “When you write a song, it’s almost like it’s an additional piece of property that you don’t want them to have and be able to use for free, because you want to go use it again. It would be kind of like saying, if you perform on the show, you can never perform the song again anywhere else. But wait a minute, [writing] a song is different. I’ll perform for you and when you film it, you can own that, but the song? No.”
He believes the “people running the show probably don’t know the legal language is broader” than it should be for a songwriting competition. “I don’t know that they really are thinking, ‘Yeah, we’re going to get a million songs submitted so we’ll own all these songs,'” he said. “It’s just, that that’s what it says.”
“Legal department probably drafted the language and they were trying to be over inclusive and protect NBCUniversal and the other production companies from any liability,” he added. “But they went a little too far, and maybe they didn’t understand that by saying, ‘We get everything and we never have to pay you for it,’ when it comes to songs it’s a different copyright and you have to treat it differently.”
Did he just say NBC's legal team didn't understand the terms in the contract they created? We think not.