Royalty pain

Don't forget to read the fine print

 Royalty pain: Local rapper Pikahsso sends bulletins to his e-mail list members about once every 20 minutes. We ignore most of them (they get in the way of our MySpace hunt for the future Mrs. Buzz), but this headline he shipped us caught our eye: "Is Mark Cuban's Company Exploiting Local & Major Musicans?"

Pikahsso's e-mail points to a story on the music Web site texasgigs.com. The juicy bit's in the headline: "Mark Cuban's HDNet releases performance DVDs without telling local and national artists," but you have to scroll down to get to the asterisk: "It appears that the company has contracts that grant them the legal right to produce and sell these DVDs."

That's what's known in the news biz as reporting yourself out of a good story, as in when a reporter digs up one contrary fact too many. That's the problem with these rookie journos: They haven't been trained to quit when they're ahead. (For examples of how the pros do it, see media coverage of the build-up to the Iraq war.)

Texas Gigs reports that musicians have performed on HDNet's True Music program but were not told directly that the episodes would see release on DVD (for which they wouldn't be compensated). At this point we would normally make some snarky comment about the literacy of musicians, except that Buzz has signed leases and pressed the "accept" button on software licenses countless times without reading the big, fat print. If Mrs. Buzz ever gave birth to a son--God forbid--he probably would be the wholly owned property of Bill Gates.

You might expect that the musicians would realize something was up if they had read the clause in the contract granting HDNet "the right to exploit the Program...in any and all other media now and hereafter known, throughout the universe and in perpetuity."

Leave it to a company belonging to Mark Cuban to include the words "hereafter," "throughout the universe" and "perpetuity" in a contract. As Mavs fans and the NBA know, Cuban is the master of Faustian bargains.

But who appears on camera these days without realizing that everything comes out on DVD or for downloading? Used that new video camera to memorialize your studliness with the missus? Someday your kids will be watching your bare bouncing butt on YouTube, and you won't see a nickel. That'd be a shame, since there are plenty of people who'd pay you good money.

 
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