While the Steinbecks continue to face formidable issues regarding their case, and have lost most of their copyrights and all control over what little they have left, due to a narrow interpretation by the Second Circuit of Section 304C of the Copyright Act, the publisher is now attempting to set a new legal precedent that will send a chilling message to artists and their families who decide to terminate and renegotiate a fair market value for their works under either sections 304C or 203 of the Copyright Act. While Section 304C is in reference to pre-1978 works, Section 203 is for works created after 1978 and the Steinbeck case has already established a disconcerting precedent. The great musical works of the sixties begin to come to term for termination in 2012. The publisher was bold enough to state in their brief that the court should award fees "... to deter Thom, Blake and others similarly situated from bringing objectively unreasonable claims and defenses that have become objectively unreasonable, contrary to the purposes of the Copyright Act."
In a rare occurrence, The Songwriters Guild has issued an Amicus Curiae opposing the publisher's actions and arguments for fees, but it is of vital importance that all the creators of intellectual property be made aware of this publisher's manipulation of the system, as they strive to chip away at those rights.
The judge, (George B. Daniels) has moved the oral arguments to the office of Magistrate Gabriel W. Gorenstein and in an unusual move, Magistrate Gorenstein is limiting oral arguments to the issue of whether or not the factors outlined in Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., in Section 501 of the Copyright Act - other than "the need in particular circumstances to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence" - have been met.
The Second Circuit has made it clear that they are unhappy with the language of the Copyright Act and have been consistently ruling against the artists and authors in a quiet attempt to stifle their termination rights from the bench.
This email is a request for a "call to arms" for the artists affected by these cases, to show up, become engaged in the battle in order to help avoid a further dilution of those rights.
If you own copyrights, then you will probably have a right to terminate those contracts at some time during your lifetime. The law was created to protect artists who may have signed away their rights for less than their true value, before having a chance to establish themselves in the marketplace. It is vital that we show our strength as a group.
The hearing is scheduled for 4pm, next Wednesday, December 22, at 500 Pearl Street, Courtroom 17A. If you are in New York at that time, please show up as a sign of solidarity.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can call Gail Steinbeck in California at (805) 565-0275. She has offered to share the case decisions as well as any other data you might need to better inform you of your rights and possible liabilities as an artist. While the Steinbecks are working towards clarifications and corrections in the law, the task will be less daunting if they have your support. Thomas Steinbeck is a member of The Authors Guild, The National Writers Union and the WGA West. Gail Steinbeck is a member in good standing of the Screen Actors Guild and the AFL-CIO. Thom and Gail are surrounded by a family of working musicians, Johnny Irion, their nephew, is a published songwriter and touring musician.
Thank you for your consideration. We hope to see you in New York on December 22nd. And please feel free to share this with others who may be affected by another negative ruling against artists and their families.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead