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California Senate To Study 'Seven-Year Statute'
The California State Senate will hold a hearing Sept. 5 in Sacramento, Calif., to begin investigation of the so-called "Seven-Year Statute," Billboard Bulletin reports. Don Henley and Courtney Love arThe California State Senate will hold a hearing Sept. 5 in Sacramento, Calif., to begin investigation of the so-called "Seven-Year Statute," Billboard Bulletin reports. Don Henley and Courtney Love are expected to testify at the hearing, which will be held by the newly formed Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry. The committee is chaired by state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), a former music agent at the William Morris Agency.
California's Seven-Year Statute limits the amount of time an individual can be held to a contract for personal services. It was amended in 1987 to provide a limited exception for recording contracts. A number of artists, including Henley, Love, Luther Vandross, and Metallica, have sued their labels under the statute. However, the suits have always been settled before a ruling could be delivered on the statute's viability.
"There is clearly some ambiguity in the law, and we will investigate how to clarify the law for both artists and their employers," Murray says in a statement. Virtually every other industry in California -- with the exception of the record industry -- is held to personal-service contracts that cannot legally run longer than seven years. I am aware that there are two sides to this issue; that is precisely the reason this hearing is necessary."
Last year, artist groups led by Henley's Recording Artists Coalition made their voices heard in Washington when they opposed an amendment the Recording Industry Association of America had helped enact to the work-for-hire provisions under federal copyright law that would have prevented artists from reclaiming their master recordings. Largely as a result of the artist activism, the law was repealed.
It remains unclear if a repeal of the California labor law amendment will be proposed. "I think there are all sorts of ways to draft something that is more effective for both parties," Murray says. "I have to listen to people and be able to ask both sides similar questions in the same room."
Murray adds that the committee also plans to investigate online and offline piracy, violence, runaway production, pension, and health care, among other issues facing the artist community.