Albums and singles released in 1978 will be the first wave of recordings subject to this rule. Several artists, including Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Loretta Lynn, Tom Waits and Bryan Adams, have already filed to reclaim qualifying works, according to records at the United States Copyright Office.
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Though this opportunity is very good news for artists who have long taken only a portion of the overall cut of profits generated from their masters, this is potentially catastrophic for the labels. In a struggling recording industry, sales from catalog items have provided a reliable source of low-overhead revenue.
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All four major record companies - Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony BMG - have already made it clear that they will not give up the recordings without a major legal battle. Steven Marks, a lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America, told the New York Times that his organization believes that "the termination right doesn't apply to most sound recordings" and that master recordings were made for the labels strictly as "works for hire." The labels are likely to cling to this reasoning if they are forced into a court case in 2013.
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