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The Rambler :: blog

Monday, October 18, 2004

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I heard an odd piece of news yesterday: Norman Cook is upset that the Labour party are using 'Right Here Right Now' as their party election theme. It's not odd that a publicly anti-Iraq war figure should resent his music being used this way, but more that he feels powerless to stop it. I always believed that while you might sign over copyright to your record company - and therefore have no say on how your work is licensed from that point of view - you still retain moral rights as the creator of that work. If Cook's lost his moral rights here he's been very stupid, and has no right to complain at all. But if he hasn't (which he probably hasn't) he needs to seek some better legal advice: while the question is not one of copyright, which he has probably signed over in full, he is still legally entitled to bring the Labour party to book for using his work in a manner which he feels is misrepresentative. (At least, that's roughly how I understand the law.) According to the story on Musicmen
Fatboy and Skint [Records] are powerless to stop Tony Blair from using this track despite their annoyance as political parties are free to use any music they like as long as they pay their PPL and PRS, they are not required to obtain any special permission from the artist.
But is this true? I thought half the point of asserting moral rights was to stop work being used for political ends that the artist finds unacceptable.

Although I heard this story on BBC 6 Music news yesterday, the BBC's site seems to carry no mention of the story at the moment, so maybe this is a storm in teacup that has now blown over - maybe the parties involved have got some legal advice before mouthing off - but I'll be keeping an eye on this one because it does look to set an odd precedent.


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