An onerous contract for the new TV talent competition Songland, executive produced by Dave Stewart, The Voice‘s Audrey Morrissey and Maroon 5 singer and The Voice star Adam Levine, has been updated to address public backlash over a clause concerning song ownership.
The clarification comes on the heels of a scathing legal opinion by New York intellectual property attorney Wallace E.J. Collins III Esq. who wrote on his personal blog, “URGENT WARNING: BEWARE OF NBC/UNIVERSAL’S “SONGLAND” SUBMISSION FORM.” According to the post by Collins, a former songwriter and recording artist for Epic, per his bio, “The NBC/Universal submission agreement for the ‘Songland’ TV show states that NBC will own all rights to use and exploit all of your songs involved in the show including the songs you submit in the initial application.”
NBC has since updated the original Songland contract for clarity.
“There has been some confusion around the casting application for ‘Songland,'” Morrissey tells Billboard in an exclusive statement. “We wish to be abundantly clear that by signing the casting application, songwriters do not transfer ownership of any of their original songs. This show is truly a celebration of songwriters and their craft.”
The updated passage — accessible to the public on McNulty Casting Inc.’s songlandcasting.com — now reads:
“As part of my application to participate in the Program, I may or will be required to submit an original, unpublished song and other musical material (collectively, the “Music”), for which I hold and shall continue to hold all copyrights and ownership therein.”
Wallace originally cited four troubling portions of the original paperwork and called it “by far one of the most onerous such television contest submission agreements I have ever encountered.”
Informed of the change in wording, Wallace tells Billboard, “Not sure if it was all a corporate oversight or if this is a ‘just kidding’ reaction to being called on it, but tens of thousands of songwriters speaking out together made a difference. At least now it appears that they make no claim to rights in any songs from those who are not chosen for the TV show. Those lucky enough to be selected for the show may be required to agree to additional obligations later, but at least they will have the choice at that time.”