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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 13:34 GMT
Stars lobby over 'unfair' contracts
Courtney Love
Love is one of the leaders of the artists' group
Musicians led by Courtney Love, Carole King and the Eagles' Don Henley have lobbied legislators to try and force an end to what they see as overlong contracts with record companies.

They were in Sacramento, California,on Wednesday to call for a change in the law that allows record companies to keep artists tied to personal contracts for longer than those working in film and television.

The action has the backing of Democratic state senator Kevin Murray.

Mr Murray has introduced a bill to overturn a 1987 exemption that allows record companies to sue musicians and singers for albums not produced over the course of seven-year contracts.

Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow joined stars such as Beck and Stevie Nicks

The artists, who have formed a group known as the Recording Artists Coalition (Rac), call the music industry contacts "indentured servitude".

Singer-songwriter Carole King vowed: "I'm going to put a question today to the legislators, which is: why not remove the exemption?"

Henley, Rac president, said: "The record companies have been deeply involved in the legislative process for a number of years now - and we simply want a place at the table."

The late Peggy Lee
The late Peggy Lee fought on behalf of artists

Other stars present on Wednesday included Beck, Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow.

Their efforts to change the law follows a tentative ruling this month that record giant Universal Music should pay $4.75m (3.3m) back royalties to up to 300 performers after a case led by the late singer Peggy Lee.

Lee, who died on Monday aged 81, claimed in a two-year court case that Universal had failed to pay her and other artists millions of dollars by under-reporting sales figures and overcharging for services.

Launching his billl earlier this month, Mr Murray said artists should take their cue from the powerful Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) trade group and learn to lobby Congress.

"The RIAA is very effective. Rather than scoff at it, I would suggest that artists use it as a model," he told the gathering of musicians, media executives and lawmakers in Washington.

He added that it was the industry's clout that had got the amendment passed in the first place.

See also:

14 Nov 01 | New Media
Henley case may boost Napster
06 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Bands launch 'missing' money writ
28 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Courtney sues management
29 Aug 01 | Music
Dixie Chicks sue Sony for $4m
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