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.
This is exactly the problem. Look at the Library of Congress, it is they whomikel78_rpm@xxxxxxxxxxx 10/27/06 11:07 AM >>>
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 <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx> To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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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