Karl Miller wrote:
> And, knowing that the subscribers to this list are amongst the best in
> reformatting and restoration...I would wonder if anyone would like to
> share stories on recordings they have preserved that they consider to be
> treasures...things that, for reasons of the US copyrights, and the
> potential costs involved (legal and license fees, etc) cannot be made
> available to the general public. Recordings that may reside in private
> hands and/or have not been listed in any of the major bibliographic
If I can find the video clip, I shall violate copyright by making it
available in some form. The program I recorded was part of a CLE -
Continuing Legal Education - series then offered in the wee hours of the
weekend by Court TV. The subject of the symposium was intellectual
property and one attorney closed his presentation with a relevant cartoon.
The next speaker noted that she represented the cartoonist and that
rights to the image had not been cleared with her or with her client.
In direct response to your question, one part of the issue may be what
is meant by "available to the general public". Does a shop in Bologna
count? A WWW site entirely in Japanese? A 'club' on the Internet whose
members lend one another original off-air recordings? These are all
representative of approaches taken to distributing classical (here,
operatic) recordings some of which violate copyright in various
There are various anomalies in the field as well. A British organization
(Historic Masters, Ltd.) issues "78-rpm" recordings pressed from
original metal parts. Most of their selections were fixed before 1923
and many have never been published previously. My understanding is that
since they were not previously issued, they are newly copyright in most
of the world; but since they were fixed before 1923, they are in the
public domain in the U.S.
An attorney in Brazil has researched Argentine law on intellectual
property and finds that it is similar to that in the U.S. with two
critical differences. It is similar in being based on the date of
fixing, not of publication or issue and in failing to recognize a sound
recording as fixing intellectual property until relatively recent times.
The critical differences are that there is only such federal law to
contend with and that the first year for which recordings are protected
is 1985. Those interested in opera and the remarkable history of the
Teatro Colon have profited from the availability of transcriptions.
I am in an unusual position here and recognize that others on this list
do not have the freedom I do. On the one occasion when I was asked to
"cease and desist" from publication, the cause was trademark violation
in that I was 'promoting' my work with the company's name. There was no
assertion of copyright violation though that was blatant; perhaps one
reason is that many of the administration of the company were grateful
to have the recordings which otherwise would have been lost.
In the reality of classical recordings, the penalty imposed on a
publisher in violation of copyright is such a request or order; there
are no recognizable profits on either side until one reaches the
Naxos/Capitol level which is hardly under consideration here. My
position has always been that I will comply instantly with any such
request and absorb the minor losses that that entails. Those
distributing the recordings I produce recognize that their efforts may
also be turned off on some or all of the titles and accept the
possibilities that that implies. Incidentally, I accept no payment for
anything I do; I subsist on pension and insurance.
For an upcoming release, I have committed to offering two versions of
the master. One will contain material which I have posted at my WWW
site, but which in aggregate may provoke a cease-and-desist request. If
so, the other master - without that material - will be used for further
orders from the dealers. Since I assert no rights to what I produce,
undoubtedly the extended version will proliferate through private
copies. I not only tolerate but urge such dissemination.
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