Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No Money For "Money"

I read an article by Larry Richter in the New York Times that infuriates me. The song “Money,” recorded in 1959, was the first national success for the Motown label of the now legendary Barry Gordon. Over the years, “Money” has generated millions of dollars in publishing royalties. It was recorded by both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, has been widely used in films and advertisements and is now featured in “Motown: The Musical” on Broadway. But the pianist and singer
Barrett Strong, who first recorded “Money” and, according to records at the United States Copyright Office in Washington, was originally listed as a writer of the song, says that he has never seen a penny of those profits. Unbeknown to Mr. Strong, who also helped write many other Motown hits, his name was removed from the copyright registration for “Money” three years after the song was written, restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, then removed again the next year — his name literally crossed out. Documents at the copyright office show that all of these moves came at the direction of Motown executives. Mr. Strong’s predicament illustrates an oddity in the American copyright system, one that record and music publishing companies have not hesitated to exploit. The United States Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, does not notify authors of changes in registrations, and until recently the only way to check on any alterations was to go to Washington and visit the archives personally.

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