Thanks to a change in copyright law that was enacted in the 1970s, artists who recorded albums in 1978 — their ranks include Bruce Springsteen with Darkness on the Edge of Town, Billy Joel with 52nd Street, and the Doobie Brothers with Minute by Minute — can reclaim the rights to their recordings from record companies, thus reclaiming the bulk of their music's profits for themselves.
The laws allow artists "termination rights" after thirty-five years, but they must apply for them two years in advance, meaning the first wave of artists that could benefit from the change must start the legal process now. “In terms of all those big acts you name, the recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.”
“This is a life-threatening change for [record labels], the legal equivalent of Internet technology,” said one lawyer working on termination rights for artists including Kool and the Gang. Another attorney for the Recording Industry Association of America warned, “We believe the termination right doesn’t apply to most sound recordings."
So, safe to say a big legal battle is in the works on this one. Mostly though, it's an excuse re-visit the 1978 classic "What a Fool Believes." Watch the video below — it never, ever gets old.