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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Musicians' attack on labels stalls
The Dixie Chicks
The Dixie Chicks are backing the new bill
A legislative battle between musicians and record companies has stalled in the US after a Democratic Senator withdrew a bill from the California state assembly.

Democrat Kevin Murray has been spearheading a move to protect musicians from long record company contracts.

The bill was the result of lobbying by the Recording Artists Coalition (RAC), led by stars including Eagles frontman Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks.

CD racks
Recording companies can sue if artists do not deliver albums
But Mr Murray said the bill was being withdrawn to be pursued again next year - along with other issues, including accounting practices and other artists' rights.

Recording artists have complained that labels can tie them to contracts of seven years and more - longer than permissible in film and TV.

A 1987 exemption in existing labour legislation allows record companies to sue musicians and singers for albums not produced over the course of their seven-year contracts.

Other stars who have lobbied on the issue include Courtney Love, Beck and Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks.

Concessions

The proposed bill recently moved from the California state senate to the assembly, where the Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media encouraged both sides to negotiate a settlement.

Talks had taken place between the RAC and the RIAA but, although the RIAA claimed to have made key concessions, negotiations stalled after artists held out for their original terms.

Songwriter Don Henley claimed that the RIAA had sabotaged negotiations with what he called a "misleading and contradictory press release".

Some industry insiders also believe Mr Murray and the RAC decided to withdraw the bill because they felt that the committee on arts and entertainment, chaired by Democratic Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, was too pro-recording industry.

Ms Cohn said the allegation was untrue.

"After over a year of good faith negotiations between the recording labels and the artists, it is unfortunate that Murray pulled the bill instead of letting members of the Assembly hear the issue," she said.

See also:

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