Good luck selling that idea to for-profit companies who OWN the recordings by all laws of (almost)
all lands, and paid money out of pocket to make them. Perhaps a good idealistic idea, but not
practical in a capitalist world. And, given the history of alternative worlds, I'll take the
capitalist one, warts and all.
This does bring up an interesting thing I've noticed on this list. Collectors seem to have vague or
"different" ideas of ownership. Just because one WANTS something to be available does not mean
that's OK with those who own it. It may not be OK for logical reasons (ie no market except a handful
of vocal collectors -- but this problem may disappear with online distribution, for instance the
number of obscure songs available at iTunes) or for illogical reasons (giant megaglomerate doesn't
understand its own vaults or has misplaced masters, etc). But, point is, in an ownership society
(which had definitely proven superior over time), the owner of something has the final call. Whether
the desirer/potential customer likes it or not.
Now, what I would like to see is a more reasonable copyright system. One idea I've had is, perhaps
35-40 years exclusive copyright on something with perhaps up to 15 years renewal if it remains in
print throughout the whole period. If, during the copyright period, something is out of print 5
years or more, another party may pay a royalty and have access to a reasonable facsimile of the
master for reissue. I'd even support up-front reissue-rights payment with a smaller royalty paid on
each item sold, which would protect copyright owners from fly-by-nights and people with big ideas
but small wallets and little common sense. Under this system, it would be in the copyright owner's
interest to provide a good quality version to the 3rd party so as to maintain the value of their
product even if they themselves don't have it in print for one reason or another. Under this system,
no matter what, after that 15 year extension -- max -- the content goes into PD. Big copyright
owners will say that doesn't give them enough time to amortize risks, but I say they take few risks
these days anyway. This would apply to music, books, movies and other copyright items (including
software and games). Now I'll duck as the tomatos fly!
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Don Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, July 07, 2006 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury co-founder Irving Green passes
> On 07/07/06, Tom Fine wrote:
>> You are correct. There were probably 50 more CD's that could have been
>> done (perhaps more if one considered being completist on the mono
>> stuff, which was an unlikely track because there was specific and
>> limited interest in the pre-1956 catalog and that interest was
>> addressed with the handful of mono reissues). Universal decided to
>> discontinue the reissues in 2000 after scaling back the previous two
>> releases. Many of the titles are still in print in the US but seem to
>> be taken out of print in most other markets, which is pretty idiotic
>> since they sold extremely well in the Orient and Europe. A good
>> classical issue is like an annuity -- keep it in print and it will
>> keep sending checks to the home office.
>> While there are probably some on this list who are passionate about
>> small-group and chamber music, in Mercury's case it never sold as well
>> as the orchestral and band recordings, so it was considered at the
>> bottom of the pile for reissues. Solo and concerto stuff like Janos
>> Starker and Byron Janis were big sellers originally and were big
>> sellers on CD. Point is, the reissue was a commercial undertaking (and
>> was very profitable), so what was reissued and in what order was
>> considered very carefully.
> It seems to me it is time some of the classic recordings (in all genres)
> were recognised as cultural treasures, so that reissues like these could
> be subsidised by UNESCO, the big Foundations, or Governments in various
> countries, just as art galleries and opera houses are subsidised.
> While there may sometimes be a profit to be made from reissues, often
> there is not. Or only enough to support a one-man-and-dog record company,
> with consequent poor distribution.
> There are many recordings that should be permanently available to all,
> in the highest possible engineering quality, for the same reason that
> anyone can walk into the National Gallery and look at the pictures.
> Don Cox
> [log in to unmask]