New threat for labels as yesterday’s stars want their music back

THE world’s leading music labels, their fortunes already in decline in the age of the internet, are confronting an even greater threat to their survival: the singers and songwriters of yesteryear.

A time bomb that has been ticking for decades is about to detonate. Under a US copyright law from 1978, artists who sold themselves to the recording companies could reclaim their copyright, and the precious royalties that go with it, in 35 years. All they need to do is file “termination claims” at least two years in advance.

As the deadline approaches the ageing stars of rock ‘n’ roll are reaching for their lawyers. Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Tom Waits and Kris Kristofferson are already reported to have filed claims with the US Copyright Office. Other music legends seem ready to join battle.

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