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Re: [ARSCLIST] The Incompetence at ENHS
This might be a naive question. Has anyone just asked whomever is the copyright owner of the
Columbia cylinders? If it's Sony/BMG, I'd imagine they'd give up rights to anything but something
Caruso-like for the positive PR, if it were pitched properly to the correct people. I'd guess the
same about a LOT of vault stuff. I mean, no one's going to release copyrights on the Beatles or
Elvis, but there's a ton of material that just sits there and is obviously of no commercial value to
the majors. If someone could appeal to ego and corporate citizenship, I bet some of this stuff --
especially stuff from the cylinder and 78 eras -- could be shaken loose for public domain. Again,
don't expect the Caruso's or Woody Guthries or Duke Ellingtons, but there were many examples of
similar-style musicians in these eras who never caught on and faded into obscurity.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "James L Wolf" <jwol@xxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, October 27, 2006 9:54 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The Incompetence at ENHS
Again, while I speak in no way for the Library of Congress, I can say without hesitation that it is
not the LOC that is keeping cylinders or any other pre-1923 recordings out of the public domain. In
fact many people here, including myself, are trying to find whatever way we can to put old
recordings on the internet.
In US law, the country of origin of a recording is of primary importance. This determines the laws
that must be observed regarding it. Columbia cylinders were recorded and manufactured in the US.
According to the act which created Sound Recordings copyrights for the first time in 1972, all
pre-1972 US recordings were to remain subject to all aplicable state anti-piracy laws until 2047.
The Sonny Bono Act extended this date to 2067. This date may be extended further if Congress wishes.
The Library of Congress Office of General Council has decided that, for the purpose of the web, the
most conservative of the state laws are to be followed. This would be New York's, which has no
expiration for anti-piracy protection. So under New York law Columbia cylinders are covered until
2067. This law was recently upheld in court.
There is a legitimate question as to whether the Federal Government needs to abide by New York law,
and many people have tried to make this point to the OGC, so far to no avail. Understandably, the
LOC's lawyers, whose job is to protect the institution, must make what they consider the safest
decision. The job of advocates like myself is to convince the lawyers that other interpretations are
possible and safe. If you know anything about the tangle of state laws on recordings, then you know
this is not an easy task.
There are other possibilities for putting old recordings on the web in one form or another. Mr.
Brylawski also explored these options in his tenure here. I'm sure there are others in Recorded
Sound who are trying to continue that work.
As the "house of copyright" the LOC is, and must be, bound by the letter of the copyright law. So
please do not blame the Library for its inability to make available most early recordings. Thanks.
All views personal. Not connected to Library of Congress policy.
mikel78_rpm@xxxxxxxxxxx 10/27/06 11:07 AM >>>
This is exactly the problem. Look at the Library of Congress, it is they who
restrict access to Columbia cylinders, are we to accept that Sony, a
Japanese company, has the right to tell the American People what is in their
public domain? In other words, the Japanese can control the American Memory?
I think not, and I certainly hope not, for in that case there is no need to
study history whatsoever.
From: Karl Miller <lyaa071@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Reply-To: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The Incompetence at ENHS
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 08:55:02 -0500
On Fri, 27 Oct 2006, Mike Loughlin wrote:
> Has anyone ever been prosecuted under any of these "laws"? No. They are
> an excuse used by archivists to horde their collections. Playing these
> recordings is protected by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
I do believe some archivists like to horde their collections. One rather
well known archivist explained his perspective to me..."if we make our
holding readily available (he spoke of photocopies), it diminishes the
value of what we own." Well so much for the value of research.
As for the copyrights...feel free to look at my many posts where I
complain about the conflict between the right to access information and
the copyrights. I have often wondered if some archive that held a unique
copyrighted sound recording were to make a copy available off site to a
researcher if the copyright owner would actually sue the archive. Let's
just say your archive holds a copy of an unpublished broadcast of the
Denver Symphony, a broadcast which your archive has reformatted and
preserved. You make a copy for some qualified researcher to use off
site. Is the Denver Symphony going to sue the archive? Is there still
a Denver Symphony? What would they gain? Most audio archives are grossly
underfunded, so you sue them...you put them out of business and then what
happens to your recordings...well, with most orchestras, they don't even
care. So, how about getting a court to issue an injunction prohibiting the
archive from doing such a thing again? Can you imagine the bad
press the orchestra would get from such an action...an non-profit tax
exempt organization (the Orchestra) limiting research. I would love to see
it happen...and I am, in general, very supportive of copyrights. I do
believe that one has the right to maintain ownership, but I believe that
with that right of ownership comes the responsibility of providing access
at a fair price.
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