Top Acts Petition Against Seven-Year Law

In a day of high-profile lobbying, Don Henley, Courtney Love, Carole King, Beck, Stevie Nicks, and Sheryl Crow, along with the Deftones, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Paul Doucette (matchbox twenty), and

In a day of high-profile lobbying, Don Henley, Courtney Love, Carole King, Beck, Stevie Nicks, and Sheryl Crow, along with the Deftones, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Paul Doucette (matchbox twenty), and Dexter Holland (Offspring), met with state lawmakers yesterday (Jan. 23) in Sacramento, Calif., in the latest effort to repeal the state's "seven-year" statute. The law exempts musicians from the seven-year limit on entertainment contracts and allows record labels to sue artists for damages from undelivered albums.

Early indications are that lawmakers felt the artists -- all members of Recording Artists Coalition and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists -- acquitted themselves well, although it's unknown whether it was enough into to overturn the provision. Earlier this month, state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City) introduced legislation to repeal the statute.

The record labels claim that the 1987 labor law amendment is necessary in order for the companies to make good on their initial investments. According to the recording industry, about $1 billion is invested annually in new artists, over 90% of whom are unsuccessful. Therefore, multi-album deals and the right to sue for undelivered product are a safety net for the labels. Artists argue that a four-album deal, for example, could tie an artist to a label for more than eight years.

"This practice of singling out recording artists is discriminatory, and it restricts the basic American philosophy of free market competition," said Don Henley, co-founder of the Recording Artists Coalition. "A recording artist, like any other working person, should be given the ability to seek higher compensation and test his or her value in the open marketplace."

If the amendment were repealed, it would essentially allow recording artists to operate as free agents and move from label to label. The bill's next stop will be before the judiciary committee. If the measure is approved, it will then go to the Senate floor, followed by the Assembly. Also in the works, under the direction of U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), is a bill to federalize the seven-year rule.