Billy’s protests lead to MySpace and Bebo rule changes

September 2006


A very public protest by Billy Bragg has led to MySpace promptly changing its standard terms and conditions. Bragg had written a letter to UK music trade magazine Music Week after using his MySpace blog to point out that the site’s small print meant that “ once an artist posts up any content (including songs), it then belongs to MySpace (AKA Rupert Murdoch) and they can do what they want with it, throughout the world, without paying the artist”. MySpace had claimed a ‘non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license’ for all its content. This has now been amended to read: ‘ does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively “Content'”) that you post to the MySpace Services. After posting your Content to the MySpace Services, you continue to retain all ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your Content in any way you choose.’ The new terms and conditions make it clear that the company renounces all ownership rights to musicians’ material and that only a limited licence is granted to the site to use and modify the content – and that full ownership remains with the copyright owner. Billy then set his sights on Bebo’s standard terms ….

and Bebo have now agreed that musicians will retain ownership of tracks they post on the site. According to recent estimates Bebo has more than 3 million monthly unique users in the UK, accounting for around 13.54% of UK visits to social networking websites, slightly more than MySpace.

See Pinsent Mason’s excellent OutLaw site at for this story and other stories on intellectual property and e-commerce issues.

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