For the past few weeks, Baker has been posting about her attempt to take back control of her catalog and encouraging her fans not to stream or download her songs until she can do so.
In a March 9 tweet she wrote, “Miraculously… i have out-lived *ALL, of my Artists Contracts They no longer ‘Own,’ My Name & Likeness. And, by Law…30 yr old, Mstrs are 2B Returned, 2 Me Unfortunately, They’re gonna make me Fight 4 it. I’m Prepared, 2 do that. Please Dont advertise/buy them.”
Swift, who has had her own highly publicized battle over control of her first six albums after manager Scooter Braun bought the rights to them for a reported $300 million last year, was the latest artist to step up and support Baker in a message on Thursday after Baker wrote, “Her creations bought & sold Again & Again, wouldnt even let her do *A Buy Out*…Taylor Swift *re-recording, her Catalog/Taylor’s Version. The GoodFight Go… Gurrrrl,” in reference to Swift’s upcoming April 9 release of a re-recorded version of her 2008 breakthrough pop album Fearless.
Swift appreciated the generation-spanning support and replied, “I’m cheering you on in your fight to get back your work, and appreciate your support so much!! Thank you,” to which Baker responded, “This Solidarity is a Beautiful Thing! Thank You.”
Baker released her debut album, The Songstress, in 1983 and over the course of her career has built a catalog of hits including “Sweet Love,” “Caught Up in the Rapture,” “Just Because,” and the No. 3 Hot 100 classic “Giving You The Best That I Got.”
Baker appeared to launch her rights fight over the concept of copyright reversion, a provision of U.S. copyright law that allows musicians and songwriters to regain control over works that were held by labels and/or publishers after a 35-year period, which would appear to apply to Songstress, as well as her 1986 follow-up, Rapture.
There are, however, a number of complicating factors in regaining those rights, which center on authorship of the works as well as what rights the artist granted the original copyright owner; at press time the status of Baker’s copyright on her first two albums were not known.
Swift was just the latest artist to stand behind Baker. Among those who’ve stepped up to offer their backing over the past week are: Chance the Rapper, who tweeted, “DO NOT LISTEN TO NO ANITA BAKER TIL THEY GIVE HER HER MASTERS BACK TELL YO MAMA TO TELL A MAMA,” as well as Esthero, who wrote, “AMEN! I have been waiting for a LEGEND to have the courage to say this. When I say it I feel like I’m shouting into the void. Thank YOU. Now who else will follow suit and stand up to the bullies? They build fortunes on our backs and don’t want to share. Strength in numbers.”
Check out the tweets below.