At 07:45 PM 6/19/2005 -0400, David Lennick wrote:
>I'd be happy if a compromise were reached, such as a 1950 cutoff....much
>worthwhile from that point on is being kept in print by the copyright holders,
>and I could live happily without producing reissues of people like Guy
>and Don Cornell and Patti Page (among the various warblers I've done in the
>last couple of years). But it cuts off a lot of good early mono classical
>material which probably is of limited interest to the big fat
There are many compromises which have been suggested - and rejected.
From my point of view, it would be sufficient to define as "abandoned" any
copyright not exercised for a defined term. Copyright would then be a right
to publish where today it is a right to withhold from publication. Another
option would be a compulsory license. Specifics would need to be
negotiated: how long before abandonment is declared; what does it mean to
be in print; the price of the license. Any such choice would likely be
better all around than the present flat protection.
In a few cases, sanity can be found. Testament have negotiated with EMI and
London/Decca to reissue titles the original publishers felt they could not
afford to release. Black Dog and Leventhal licensed some excellent but not
first-line LP recordings from EMI, then offered them in innovative
packaging at modest price. But other companies and other parts of those who
have compromised are unwilling to play the game; dogs in the manger, they
decline even to respond to inquiries from smaller operations.
There is a second issue which could also be helped with a compromise. It
can be daunting for a smaller operation to defend its rights. I was asked
by a foreign publisher to help them suppress blatant pirates of their
in-print catalogue by a medium-sized publisher in the U.S. The publisher
did not respond to my letter and has claimed in public that their pirates
(recognizable as stolen on their face) are legal. In another situation, EMI
is brazenly asserting that it has rights to a collection of in-house and
broadcast recordings of Maria Callas which are simply taken from pirate
distribution and blessed by Callas's sister. The other artists on those
recordings have not been considered and are essentially unable to pursue
their rights against the monolith.
So it's inequity all around and "compromise" only where the major companies
can gain more profit.
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