The Inquirer-Home

Robert Fripp lays in to music industry rip-off merchants

Vista composer exposes EMI's lucrative shenanigans
Wed Oct 31 2007, 08:50

GUITAR WHIZZ and composer of Vista's little blipping noises, Robert Fripp is fed up with the hypocrisy of the music industry over copyright.

Fripp writes that he and his King Crimson band feel ripped off by record label EMI.

Apparently, EMI may have flogged some King Crimson CDs when it shouldn't have and cryptically Fripp refers to returns of unsold CDs. "A concern with returns is always that they are not dumped back onto the market by mistake (by mistake, dear reader)," he writes.

But it is the issue of downloads that is causing most headaches.

"After the licence (with EMI) expired," writes Fripp, "King Crimson tracks repeatedly appeared on various download websites licensed from EMI. If this had happened during the licence period, it would have been disturbing – even though shit happens and we should have gotten over it! - because EMI never had download rights from us."

This, mainly, is because when the licence period began, there was no such thing as downloads. Fripp says the EMI licence was subsequently not renewed because he and the band were not willing to approve download rights, "because the royalty terms offered sucked."

"These are current industry standard royalty terms," Fripp adds.

The download income EMI offered was neither sufficient nor satisfactory says Fripp. But what galls the most, he says, "is the cavalier approach to copyright ownership of someone other than EMI."

"It’s a little too rich to punish punters for illegal downloads of EMI copyright material when EMI are themselves guilty of copyright violation. The response, many months ago, of the EMI lawyer (the one who also said "shit happens! get over it") effectively told us "I’ve done my best! we’ve told them to take it down!"

"This isn’t quite good enough when making publicly available the copyright material of others. How bad do EMI management systems have to be that the company has no power of control over its licensing to download companies?"

As Fripp notes it's a pain in Aris for artistes to have to keep tabs on the record companies like this. It's "a major distraction from the creative life, and almost wholly a negative experience," he bleats.

The bad news, he writes, is that it's not in the record companies' interests to sort it out. In this case: "Efficiency is not seen as being in the direct interest of the record company - because it profits from its carelessness."

More Frippery here. µ


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