HOORAY! HOORAY! IT'S A HALLY-HALLYDAY: Universal Music have been forced by a French court to give back master tapes made by Johnny Hallyday over his forty year career. The court agreed with Hallyday's case that, although the record company had put the cash up front for the recordings, Hallyday had paid them back through the money they'd made off them. An independent expert has been appointed to invetigate the fairness of the system - which underpins most record companies' operations - and to decide if it's fair or not, before the court will rule on whether Hallyday should also receive financial compensation as well. But the significance lays in the ownership of the masters, of course: if record companies are forced to return the masters and the copyright to the artists once advances have been recouped, the operations of the big four could be royally buggered. It would be a wonderful irony if the BPI is about to launch a massively expensive campaign to extend the copyright in recordings, only to discover its members are then having to hand that copyright back to the people who actually made the records anyway.