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Spinal Tap relaunch Fairness Rocks as creator rights campaign platform

By | Published on Wednesday 25 April 2018

This Is Spinal Tap

To coincide with tomorrow’s World Intellectual Property Day (not long to make the finishing touches to your street party preparations!), Spinal Tap have relaunched their ‘Fairness Rocks’ website as a campaign aimed at benefitting all creators.

The website was originally set up to promote a 2016 lawsuit brought by the fictional band’s Harry Shearer against entertainment conglom Vivendi, its film business StudioCanal and (subsequently) its music company Universal Music. Now also involving Shearer’s creative collaborators Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, the lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs have not been paid royalties they are due on the film ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ and its soundtrack album.

It always seemed as if the ‘Fairness Rocks’ website was intended to foster some sort of creator rights movement. Now it is explicitly stating that to be the case. Leading the campaign, intellectual property rights expert Amanda Harcourt explains: “The ‘Fairness Rocks’ campaign was born out of the Spinal Tap creators’ knowing that they were not singled out for special treatment. In fact, only a select few highly successful creators actually receive a fair share of the benefits arising from the exploitation of their work”.

“Fans and audiences may not realise the economic truth behind the music and film industries”, she continues. “If consumers are repelled by t-shirts manufactured by exploited labour in the developing world, it struck us that, when informed of the commercial realities, audiences may similarly disapprove of the lack of fair treatment the talent receives at the hands of corporations exploiting their music and films”.

“To make matters worse, the practices of powerful tech companies have devastated the incomes of writers, composers, performers, and filmmakers right across the world”, she adds.

“The truth is that both power and financial imbalances, between the talent and corporations, have persisted for too long”, she goes on. “Individually, the talent has a weak bargaining position; often creators are required to sign contracts that fly in the face of the fundamental principles of laws designed to protect them”.

Explaining the aim of the campaign, she says: “At Fairness Rocks it is our intention to shine a light on some of these unfair practices, to help educate the public, and to inform young creators beginning their careers in music and film. We want to highlight the work of the talent advocacy organisations and to be a place where useful, up-to-date information can be found for media, moviemaker and musician alike”.

“Most importantly, we hope that filmmakers, songwriters, musicians and actors of all stripes will join Fairness Rocks and help us give them a unified voice. We want to provide a platform for the talent to speak openly and share their experiences of their industries. Put simply, all the talent should be receiving a fair share of the fruits of their work”.

“Sunlight is a great disinfectant”, she concludes. “So if the transparency of the Fairness Rocks campaign can help change some deeply-entrenched industry norms, the creative industry’s future will look a little bit brighter”.

Visit the Fairness Rocks website here.