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[ARSCLIST] copyright and archives query


This is my first posting to ARSClist. Unfortunately the two main questions in my first posting have probably been answered before, but I could not locate a similar question in the archive search.

I am working on a book about American Indian music and musicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the individuals I focus on made commercial recordings and used artist names such as Chief Os-Ke-Non-Ton, Princess Watahwaso, and Chief Kiutus Tecumseh. I am publishing the book through the University of Oklahoma Press, and they have agreed to include a CD with the book, that is, if I can secure the proper copyright permissions.

The recordings that I am interested in are on the Columbia, Victor, Decca, His Master's Voice, and Gennett labels (but mostly Victor and Columbia). I have most of the matrix #s and some of the recording/ session information.

First question: I have never before attempted to secure permissions for compositions and sound recordings. Does anyone have contact information for helpful individuals at Sony, BMG, Vivendi, or whoever might today own the rights to these recordings (they were made between 1915-1935)? Would anyone who has dealt with this process before mind informing me of their experience, the cost involved, etc? I'm basically trying to do this myself and feel a little lost (and small) when I contemplate the difficulty of finding someone at those conglomerates who will work with me. And is there a website or guide out there that can trace these recordings to today's owners of the rights? Need I visit the copyright office in DC in order to determine the present ownership?

Second question: I know of the Edison archives, and the Gennett materials at Rutgers, but are the Columbia and Victor archives from this era available to the public? If so, where do they exist?

I would really appreciate any advice or information that any of you mind sharing with me.

Thanks so much in advance for your help,

John W. Troutman
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for the Americas
Wesleyan University
255 High Street
Middletown, CT 06459

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