I do agree with Steve that copyright law is not a good area for States Rights. It's one of the few
legal areas where I strongly favor federalization and standardization of the laws/rules/enforcement.
However, do understand that anything we (we being Americans and our elected officials) throw into
the public domain becomes worthless or near-worthless to its copyright owner and therefore any
efforts to make a good reissue out of antique master media will not come from the owners of that
master media. Current copyright law is the only (slight, thin, flawed) guarantee of a profit margin,
the only incentive to dig an old master out of the vault and hire an expert to make a good transfer.
If you like what Naxos and the gray-market jazz "labels" out of Europe are pushing, then throw all
the pre-1972 masters into the PD.
I favor a "use it or lose it" approach. Basically, if you own the master tape or disk to a pre-1972
recording, you would get XX years to reissue it and have a period of XX years of a renewed,
hopefully global, copyright. This would be a huge incentive for mass digitization and release. I'd
add years to the copyright if some sort of expert protocol were followed, although I know that's a
huge potential trap and inept bureaucracy mess. If there's a better way to incent high quality, then
I'd favor it, I just haven't thought of it. After this period of renewed copyright, the high-quality
digital files would pass into the PD.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Compact Discs with lossy compression
> If this is the way the copyright laws work, then your complaint is not with
> the companies but with the governments who write and enforce them.
> Bottom line: Get the U.S. copyright laws for pre-1972 recordings under US
> government control rather than that of the 50 states plus territories, etc.
> That will substantially reduce the squishyness of the US legal process.
> Then there should be enough credibility for the U.S. to negotiate with other
> countries to deal with the large variety of sound copyright-related issued
> that remain.
> There isn't likely to be too much in the "instant gratification" department
> but not doing anything about it is hardly a solution.
> If you come to ARSC conferences, join the Copyright Committee. We usually
> have a lunch meeting (paid for by individual attendees). You might also
> consider a donation to ARSC dedicated to furthering this committee's work.
> We've done some amazing stuff, considering we're micro-Davids in a world of
> Goliaths. ARSC President Tim Brooks is chair.
> Steve Smolian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Donald Clarke
> Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:32 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Compact Discs with lossy compression
> Chuck Nessa and Bob Sunenblick produced a wonderful compilation of all the
> 78s Charles Mingus made in California in the 1940s - early '50s. Sunenblick
> even bought one of the obscure labels to get the access, discovered unknown
> Mingus comps and turned the rights over to his widow. The booklet was a
> 96-page masterpiece about west coast jazz of the era. This took years and
> lots of money; the tracks were IMMEDIATELY ripped off by somebody, probably
> in the microstate of Andorra.
> Donald Clarke
> On Oct 1, 2013, at 12:08 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Yeah, but you guys just raised a key issue. My bet is that Rhett's Duane
> Eddy compilation may have come from overseas. It's a gray-market product
> from the get-go. Using liberal copyright rules in other countries, producers
> of cheap compilations get someone to make a quicky transfer of an LP or 45
> because they can't license the master tapes. If they did this in the U.S.,
> Australia and a few other places with strict copyrights, they'd be
> prosecuted as pirates. Naxos is the king of this, operating out of Hong Kong
> and selling cheapo discs made from garage sale LP dubs. Pure junk, but they
> exist because the labels sit on their vaults and won't invent a viable
> business plan to unleash all of the contents of their vaults.
> Even more insidious than cheapo junk reissues of LP and 45 dubs from
> gray-market operators overseas is taking a high-quality reissue like a
> Mosaic box, ripping the CDs and then repackaging them into original album
> sequences with usually blurry scans of the cover art. There are several jazz
> reissue "labels" based in Europe that specialize in this practice. It's
> worse than LP dubs because they are stealing Mosaic's investment in quality
> remastering and Mosaic buyers are thus subsidizing these gray-market goods.
> Again, if the record labels would do this themselves, after Mosaic sells out
> its licensed number of sets, then at least legitimate copyright owners would
> be profiting and it's more likely that artists would eventually get whatever
> royalties they are due.
> There's a whole hornet's nest of issues here but it boils down to two big
> trends. First, consumers want to pay prices that do not tend to allow for a
> profit margin that can build in quality work on the transfer and mastering
> end. Second, big record companies tend to make slow, dumb decisions about
> materials in their vaults because they are set up to chase quarterly hits.
> These two factors open the door to the gray-market leeches, which further
> erodes the margins and markets for legitimate reissues.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Donald Clarke" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 11:53 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Compact Discs with lossy compression
>> Good point here. It may be impossible to get into vaults or to get to
> master tapes, but if you're going to put out a cheesy bootleg, it's like the
> food in a bad restaurant: every foodie I know agrees that it's just as easy
> to do it better.
>> Donald Clarke
>> On Oct 1, 2013, at 11:20 AM, Jamie Howarth wrote:
>> Agreed w Tom on most points. If we could get a couple grand to do a Duane
> Eddy it would be done.It doesn't cost much more to do it right than do it
>> The labels will license-out for vinyl physical product, but not digital
> physical product. If they did the rich hedgie would be backing a new custom
> label done by us.
>> You guys should be making the adamant case that there's a quality floor,
> and to repackage an existing set of 44/16s as new is sketchy, and certainly
> that repackaging mp3s is caused for flaming brooms and pitchforks. It is
> imperative that you guys speak up, and realize that your reissue market may
> be mispriced - you're Red Seal/Shaded Dog, not Roulette records w ground up
> labels in the vinyl. And even back then there was honor among some of the
> thieves. Morris mandated re-used vinyl, Berry mandated against it.
>> Please pardon the misspellings and occassional insane word
>> substitution I'm on an iPhone
>> On Oct 1, 2013, at 9:01 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> I'm assuming Jamie was referring to a filthy-rich hedgefund guy who's
> also an audiophile. His point was, the guy was willing to pay extra for
> better audio quality. We already see in the LP market that a healthy niche
> can exist for people willing to pay more for perceived "better" quality. In
> the LP niche, I would argue it's as much for the cachet and the nice
> packaging (a real artifact, as opposed to a cheap-looking commodity product)
> as for the allegedly "better" sound quality.
>>> There does seem to be an emerging niche for higher-quality digital audio,
> but most of the excitement is in the now-tiny download niche. For the
> mainstream market, despite wishes by some of us for things to be otherwise,
> there simply is not the production budget or profit margin to "do things
> great", at almost any stage of the process. This is especially true with
> reissue material, which has a limited end market. Comparing the market for a
> deluxe Grateful Dead reissue to the market for less-popular (with today's
> buyers) Duane Eddy is comparing apples and oranges. No reissue producer in
> his right mind is going to spend very much money putting together a Duane
> Eddy greatest hits single-CD. He will likely make a very slim margin on it,
> as is.
>>> That said, it's inexcusable to over-use digital "cleanup" software or use
> a low-resolution source. My bet is, the source material for the CD that
> Rhett got is old singles and/or LPs. Some "engineer" decided to go overboard
> with DSP to "clean up" the surface noise and ticks and pops, used a heavy
> hand, and ended up with garbage that sounds like bad Napster-era MP3. Most
> people would probably be surprised how many master tapes are lost or are now
> unplayable without costly restoration measures (for which there is no
> budget), so many old-time pop and rock retrospectives are coming off singles
> and LPs.
>>> I can tell you from personal experience that it is very hard to make the
> numbers work on a per-disc basis spending more than a handful of thousands
> of dollars, soup to nuts (transfer to finished authored Red Book disc,
> hopefully with processed high-rez and Mastered for iTunes download files
> also). That's a very, very constrained budget. Given that the transfer takes
> place in real-time, and careful listening must be done before and after, and
> especially if any DSP is performed, you get to very low wages quickly. So
> very few projects have the time or budget to go to anything approaching
> extraordinary strides toward high quality. I don't like it either, but
> that's the simple reality of today. Ask yourselves, how many of you are
> willing to pay $25 for a single CD. Adjusted for inflation since 1984,
> that's the low end of what one should cost today. Given that they tend to
> sell for under $10, you get what you are willing to pay for. Not enough
> "hedgies" out there to bend the curve.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Donald Clarke"
>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 8:41 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Compact Discs with lossy compression
>>>> I'm using this list to improve my vocabulary. Please, sir, what's a
>>>> Donald Clarke
>>>> On Oct 1, 2013, at 12:23 AM, Jamie Howarth wrote:
>>>> Here's a brain teaser: I asked a wealthy hedgie what is favorite album
> is. Ok U2 War... Alright what would you pay for an HD download ... 29.95$..
> Ok how much would you pay for a mirror copy of the master tape...
> 500bucks!!! In a heartbeat.