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Clip: Billy Bragg’s MySpace Protest Movement

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  • Carl Z.
    Billy Bragg s MySpace Protest Movement By ROBERT LEVINE Published: July 31, 2006 When he is not
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2006

      Billy Bragg's MySpace Protest Movement

      Published: July 31, 2006

      When he is not writing or performing protest songs, the British
      folk-rocker Billy Bragg is apparently reading the fine print.

      In May, Mr. Bragg removed his songs from the MySpace.com Web site,
      complaining that the terms and conditions that MySpace set forth gave
      the social networking site far too much control over music that people
      uploaded to it. In media interviews and on his MySpace blog, he said
      that the MySpace terms of service made it seem as though any content
      posted on the site, including music, automatically became the site's

      Although MySpace had not claimed ownership of his music or any other
      content, Mr. Bragg said the site's legal agreement — which included
      the phrase "a nonexclusive, fully paid and royalty-free worldwide
      license" — gave him cause for concern, as did the fact that the
      formerly independent site was now owned by a big company (the News
      Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch).

      Mr. Bragg said that he himself had kept most of the copyrights to his
      recordings, licensing them out to the various record companies that
      have released his albums over the years. "My concern," he said in a
      telephone interview, "is the generation of people who are coming to
      the industry, literally, from their bedrooms."

      About a month later, without referencing Mr. Bragg's concerns,
      MySpace.com clarified its terms of service, which now explain who
      retains what rights. A sample line: "The license you grant to
      MySpace.com is nonexclusive (meaning you are free to license your
      content to anyone else in addition to MySpace.com)."

      Jenny Toomey, executive director of the Future of Music Coalition, an
      advocacy group for musicians that focuses on intellectual property
      rights, said the Internet could help musicians warn one another about
      potential contractual problems. "Information is now shared in a
      different way," she said, "and artists who are getting a bad deal can
      connect with each other."

      Mr. Bragg, who said he never had any direct communication with
      executives from MySpace, has put some of his music back on the site.
      And he offered some praise for the site's effectiveness in spreading
      his message. "That's the amazing thing about MySpace," he said. "If
      you say something, word gets out."
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