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Billy Bragg had never read the rules for MySpace before hosting his music there, the singer has admitted. Bragg made the admission after convincing the site to alter its terms and conditions to safeguard the intellectual property rights of musicians.

Bragg said that sites such as MySpace could help young musicians rewrite the rules of the music industry, but only if their rights are protected. He was speaking in today's edition of OUT-LAW Radio, the weekly technology podcast.

Bragg has recently won battles with MySpace and Bebo over the sites' terms and conditions, forcing the sites to make it clear that they have no claim to material posted there.

"I was concerned about people coming into MySpace for the first time, people coming into the new industry for the first time. I don't want to find out in 25 years time that 20 per cent of my earnings are owned by Apple or whoever. I want the right to be able to exploit my own back catalogue," he said. "If I choose to sign that away to someone for life of copyright that's my choice but before that happens I want kids to know what that means and what the ramifications of that are."

Bragg had posted his music on the site but withdrew it when he realised the site appeared to claim rights over his music. "Like the majority of people who posted stuff on MySpace we'd never actually read right through the terms and conditions," he admitted. MySpace is reported to be home to 2.2m bands.

"The idea of giving someone that kind of licence – it's phenomenal, huge coverage. I wouldn't give someone that kind of licence if they were giving me an advance, never mind on a free service. I said we wouldn't put anything up until this had been changed or clarified."

Bragg has praised MySpace for its swift action in issuing new terms and conditions explicitly saying that material belonged to its creators, saying that the company acted "in the spirit of the internet".

"The thing I'm most delighted about is that the principle of the right of the producer of the material to ownership of the right to exploit their own material seems to have been established on the largest internet community site of them all, which is MySpace," he said.

Previously, MySpace's rules said that a user would "hereby grant to MySpace.com a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such content on and through the services."

The new conditions read: "MySpace.com 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."

Hear the interview: OUT-LAW Radio 

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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