Billy Bragg And Tom, Friends Reunited

From the New York Times’ Robert Levine, July 31, 2006

In May, Billy Bragg removed his songs from the MySpace.com Web site, complaining that the terms and conditions that MySpace set forth gave the social networking site far too much control over music that people uploaded to it. In media interviews and on his MySpace blog, he said that the MySpace terms of service made it seem as though any content posted on the site, including music, automatically became the site’s property.

Although MySpace had not claimed ownership of his music or any other content, Mr. Bragg said the site’s legal agreement — which included the phrase “a nonexclusive, fully paid and royalty-free worldwide license” — gave him cause for concern, as did the fact that the formerly independent site was now owned by a big company (the News Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch).

Mr. Bragg said that he himself had kept most of the copyrights to his recordings, licensing them out to the various record companies that have released his albums over the years. “My concern,” he said in a telephone interview, “is the generation of people who are coming to the industry, literally, from their bedrooms.”

About a month later, without referencing Mr. Bragg’s concerns, MySpace.com clarified its terms of service, which now explain who retains what rights. A sample line: “The license you grant to MySpace.com is nonexclusive (meaning you are free to license your content to anyone else in addition to MySpace.com).”

Mr. Bragg, who said he never had any direct communication with executives from MySpace, has put some of his music back on the site.