Artists’ rights when it comes to broadcasts by local television stations is the main topic to be discussed at a meeting of local musicians this weekend, in light of concerns raised after last month’s “We Stand on Guard” benefit at Mile One Centre.
Dozens of Newfoundland and Labrador musicians participated in the fundraising concert, which raised about $600,000 for victims of hurricane Igor through the Red Cross.
The concert was also broadcast live on NTV, which aired it again later in the night and a few more times over the following week.
While its members aren’t alleging any wrongdoing on the part of NTV, the Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians’ Association is looking to put a contract in place for the next time a similar situation arises, in order to protect musicians’ rights.
Some of the musicians who took part in the benefit concert were concerned about the re-broadcasts and how it was affecting their personal rights, said Jordan Young, the association’s outreach and education officer.
“Not only do artists have copyrights on their original compositions, but if they’re performing covers, for instance when The Once performed a Leonard Cohen song, Leonard Cohen would have the copyright on that song,” he explained. “They very much have a say in what happens, even though a broadcaster may have produced or paid for the broadcast and still has some rights.”
NTV had asked for 24-hour broadcasting rights to the concert, Young said, and the participants agreed. The issues arose when the TV station re-broadcast it numerous times past the 24-hour time limit.
There was no contract or agreement in place giving them the right to do so, Young said, but there was nothing official to say they couldn’t do it, either.
“They didn’t do anything wrong — the crews gave a lot of their time, trying to help out in a time of crisis to raise money for those in need, but we still have artists who are thinking, ‘Oh jeez, they have this footage of me. What’s going to happen to it?’ It raises a lot of questions, and if there had been an agreement, there wouldn’t be these questions.”
"(NTV) didn't do anything wrong ... but we still have artists who are thinking, 'Oh jeez, they have this footage of me. What's going to happen to it?' It raises a lot of questions, and if there had been an agreement, there wouldn't be these questions." - Jordan Young, Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians' Association
In other parts of the country, broadcasters negotiate with the Canadian Federation of Musicians, of which the local association is part, to make clear the rights when it comes to airing copyrighted material. From the get-go, pay scales, working conditions and other rights are set out in a contract, Young said.
In the case of the Mile One show, a few acts, including Hey Rosetta! and The Novaks, opted not to take part in the television broadcast, and performed before the cameras started rolling.
Lindsey Andrews, production and operations manager for NTV, said the station was actually approached by event promoters and organizers and asked to air the concert, to help fundraising efforts.
“In our opinion, that’s exactly what we did,” he said, adding the private television station was the only one to broadcast the “We Stand on Guard” event across the province, and actually took a hit to its own bottom line by pulling prime-time shows to air the concert.
Andrews said the station is interested in learning more about the association and who it represents, and has set up a meeting with association members for next week. It’s not a meeting to start any kind of negotiations, he said, but “purely an informal discussion to see what they have to say.”
When asked if he could see the association’s point of view on the matter, Andrews declined to comment.
“I can only say that if the musicians have a certain opinion on something, then obviously that’s their right, but as far as we’re concerned … we did exactly what was asked of us, and we rose to the occasion, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s kind of disheartening that this type of thing (would come up), but that’s life.”
The ’ association is inviting anyone who’s interested to attend the open meeting at Gower Street United Church in St. John’s between
3-5 p.m. Sunday.