In this Wired interview with David Byrne, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke says something startling:
“EMI wasn’t giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff.”
I’m pretty sure that what he is saying is that because Radiohead signed to EMI before any of this digital craziness started, their contract made no explicit mention of selling music online. EMI seems to have decided that meant it did not have to pay the band for online sales.
That’s pretty offensive as it is, but even worse when you consider the music industry’s stand agains allofmp3.com, the Russian music website that existed in a similar loophole. Russia used to have an arrangement a bit like Australia’s Copyright Agency, which scoops up fees from folks like Universities to cover lost book sales caused by photocopying chapters for distribution. But Russia’s laws made no mention of digital downloads, so allofmp3.com (allegedly) made payments into the Russian equivalent of the copyright fund even though there was no mechanism for their distribution.
The music industry kicked the living cr*p out of allofmp3.com, arguing that artists would never see any of the cash. All the while, it seems, they were employing exactly the same argument to keep cash from flowing to their own artists.