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Re: [ARSCLIST] The Incompetence at ENHS
The original ARSCLIST correspondence requested by James Wolf and others regarding uncertainties in the copyright status of Edison recordings is attached.
>>> jwol@xxxxxxx 10/27/06 10:57:37 AM >>>
Before I comment, I'd like to ask why there is now some question about the public domain status of Edison recordings. I've been told for 12+ years that they're PD. I must have missed the original posting questioning this. Could someone point me to it or recap it briefly? Thanks.
I can understand frustration about the government's inability to put up sound recordings on the web. The issue of whether something is public-domain or not is one I run into constantly. Institutional and staffing problems at any given facility do not mean that there is a lack of desire to share treasures with the public, but rather that there are any number of greater forces that can make this impossible at times.
And I know that seemingly eternal "copyright" on sound recordings is a concern of many people here. Some, especially Sam Brylawski and Tim Brooks, have done tremendous work to explore every legal option for making recordings available and to try to change the laws to reflect a more sensible balance between public and private interests. There is a cause and a time for rage against the "system." But the better approach is to support and continue the positive work that has been done.
All opinions are personal, and do not reflect LOC policy in any way.
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Yes, Edison National Historic Site does have the original donation paperwork from 1956-57 documenting the gifts of the Edison Laboratory and its contents from the McGraw-Edison company to the National Park Service. We searched through it all recently, but could find no mention of copyright in relation to Edison phonograph records. I've heard it said many times that the copyright on Edison recordings turned to public domain with the gift of the laboratory. But I've never been able to tie down the source of this idea or verify its accuracy.
-Jerry Fabris, ENHS
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Sam Brylawski
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2006 10:10 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] New U.S. Copyright Laws
I can't speak for Edison and the Park Service site,and it's my understanding
that no one has seen the original "gift" agreement in many years. But the
gov't can and does own many copyrights. For instance, LC owns those for the
works of Vladimir Ussachevsky. (They bring in millions a year!) However, the
gov't may not own a copyright for something *created* by the gov't. That is,
created with tax-dollars.
On 4/26/06, Steven Smolian <smolians@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I've come in in the middle of this discussion, so perhaps I missed the
> The U.S. Government cannot own a copyright. All Edison recordings are
> by the U.S. Department of Parks and are, accordingly, public domain.
> Steven Smolian
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