Having made an excellent case for the problems of selling song rights to corporations, your lede “Michael Jackson had an awful idea” is nonsensical. For in such an environment, having a fellow artist in position to control the songs is surely a better outcome than, say, CBS or Comcast or name your other soulless corporation. The fact that Jackson actually publicly fell out with Sony over artist’s rights back in 2001 ought to clue you in that, rather than being “an awful idea,” it might be a case of “thank god it was him.”
Here’s what Jackson said:
Let me just say this… The tradition of great performers… the tradition of great performers from — I really want you to know what I say! — from Sammy Davis Junior, to James Brown, to Jackie Wilson, to Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly. The story is usually the same though. These guys worked really hard at their craft, for the story ends the same. They are usually broken, torn and usually just sad, because the companies take advantage of them, they really do.
So, yeah — as you point out in your piece, intellectual property ownership is a landmine. But — you’ll never know how many explosions didn’t occur because an artist named Jackson was boss.