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UMG beats Marley estate in court case over masters

SOME YOU LOSE, SOME YOU WIN: UMG may have taken one on the chin in a recent court decision favoring original Eminem publisher FBT Productions, but the company has come out on top in a complaint brought by the Marley estate. According to a decision by U.S. District Court judge Denise Cote in Manhattan, Universal Recordings has been ruled the undisputed owner of the masters of five prime Bob Marley & the Wailers albums released on Island between 1973-75: Burnin’, Catch a Fire, Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibrations and Exodus. These LPs include classics like "No Woman, No Cry," "One Love," and "I Shot the Sheriff.” UMG was ruled the "absolute owner" of the masters in question, based on a "work for hire" provision in the original contracts. Queried by Digital Music News, attorney William Hochberg pointed out that 1972 marked the first year that recordings were recognized as separate copyrighted works, while 1977 was the last year that the Copyright Act of 1909 governed. "So some of these recording artists, including Marley, have hoped to regain their precious masters by denying they were employees-for-hire," he explained. "This case dashes those hopes—at least pending appeal." (9/14a)

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