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Classic rockers to battle labels over copyrights

Elvis Costello, Don Henley, and others are fighting for the master recordings of their most famous songs

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Some of your favorite albums from 1978 — such as Elvis Costello‘s This Year’s Model, Bruce Springsteen‘s Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Blondie‘s Parallel Lines — may soon be caught up in lawsuits that could dictate U.S. copyright law for years to come. That’s because of a provision in the law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1978, allowing artists to file for ”termination rights” — essentially reclaiming sole possession of their original works — after a period of 35 years. Numerous musicians, including Eagles frontman and Recording Artists’ Coalition founder Don Henley, are already taking steps to get back their master recordings from their labels. Henley seems ready for a long series of court battles, but record companies are hoping to renegotiate the terms of their contracts with their classic cash cows — and many already have. Most artists and execs are keeping quiet as they figure out their next steps, but should requests result in litigation, copyright experts say record labels are prepared to declare albums ”works for hire,” which would exempt them from the copyright law. Is this what the Scorpions had in mind in 1978 when they released Taken by Force?