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"We are disappointed by the RIAA's back-pedaling on the 'work for hire' issue. It seems to indicate that at no time did the RIAA have any intention of dealing with the issue in a good-faith manner despite language previously agreed to by both sides."
—statement from NARAS
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RIAA STILL AT ODDS WITH ARTISTS OVER WORK FOR HIRE

Artists’ Attempt To Make Language Of Law "Neutral" Opposed By RIAA
Talks between the Recording Industry Association of America and artists seeking to repeal a copyright law amendment, commonly known as "works for hire," have reached an impasse.

The RIAA has proposed language for the draft repeal legislation that is unacceptable to the artists, and now it looks like the artist groups will bring the issue back to Congress, The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday (7/26).

Negotiations urged on by Congress between the factions to forge a new "work for hire" law took a turn for the worse on Monday after a meeting conducted in Los Angeles by artist rep/attorney Jay Cooper and RIAA Senior VP and general counsel Cary Sherman.

In a meeting last week, Cooper offered "neutral" language that would return the law to its original form. Sherman, to Cooper's surprise, offered new language on Monday that included "a really substantive change."

Cooper says that he was very hopeful after last week's meeting, but is now "very disappointed."

"They came in with a major change which added elements that are very favorable to the record companies," Cooper told The Reporter.

The Reporter cites sources as saying the new language in the draft legislation refers to sound recordings in such a way that, even if a law were passed to repeal the controversial provision, the courts would still have legal grounds to consider sound recordings as works made for hire.

"They (the artists) have said they can't accept the words 'sound recordings' in the statute which is all about sound recordings," Sherman said. "Our companies are very concerned that that would cause fatal prejudice to a neutral position. We are trying to arrive at a non-prejudicial formulation. Fixed rules about what words can and cannot be in, we have to work through. That's what the process is all about."

As expected, the Recording Academy opposed the RIAA's stance. "We are disappointed by the RIAA's back-pedaling on the 'work for hire' issue," a NARAS statement said. "It seems to indicate that at no time did the RIAA have any intention of dealing with the issue in a good-faith manner despite language previously agreed to by both sides. Their new language is completely unacceptable to the creative music community, and the RIAA's legal arguments in support of these changes we believe are disingenuous."

In response to NARAS' statement, Sherman replied: "(NARAS President/CEO) Michael Greene's statements are both uninformed and unhelpful. RIAA is committed to finding a solution that restores prior law without prejudice to anyone's position. That requires careful work and precise drafting, not inflammatory accusations that have no foundation as a matter of fact or of law."

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