Thanks for forwarding to me, Gary. For some reason I have not been getting
ARSC List items lately. I don't know why. I will have to make sure I paid
my ARSC dues ....
Keep in mind that sound recordings could not be copyrighted at all under US
federal law before Feb., 1972. Pre-1972 sound recordings can only pose a
problem under the state law of a handful of states that have created "state
law copyright law." CA and NY are the biggies here. Many states have no
law on this and others have considered it and expressly rejected the notion
of state law copyright law. If we ever have a functioning Congress again,
Congress should federalize the law of copyright for pre-1972 sound
recordings, making it uniform and getting rid of all the state law stuff,
as ARSC has worked for. That, of course, has not happened yet.
Sometimes people will say that pre-1972 sound recordings are in Public
Domain in the US. That is not quite right. A recording must pass thru
copyright protection to reach PD (which in this country will not happen for
most copyrighted recordings until you and everyone you ever met are long
dead). Pre-1972 recordings are protected by neither copyright law nor
PD. They are in their own limbo, but you cannot be held liable for using
one of them except under the aforementioned state law. There have been
some lawsuits trying to change that, in particular the long-running and
notorious "Flo and Eddie" case dragging on for years now, but none of those
lawsuits have succeeded in changing anything. My prediction is that they
will all fail. Courts do not have the power to make up something like
federal copyright law that was never passed by Congress.
The TAP LPs may well predate 1972. I can't recall the year when Smith
died, but that may be easily findable in a Google search and would answer
There is another "copyright" issue here. Assuming for a minute that the
TAP recordings were copyrightable under federal law, they were themselves
just compilations of prior (pre-1972) recordings, so the only copyrightable
aspect to them would have been the compilation itself. In other words, for
a compilation (still assuming post-Feb, 1972), the sequence and collection
of the content can be copyrightable but that does not create a copyright on
the content itself. For the content itself, you have to go back to the
original recordings. Their "reissue" has no affect on copyright status,
whether or not the reissues were authorized by whoever owned the
recordings. Dennis is undoubtedly right that Smith did not obtain any
permissions, to the extent that matters.
But the overriding issue for all of this is why bother with TAP records at
all today? They were poorly made, poor sounding things that I would never
consider using as a source for any kind of restoration today, except out of
dire necessity. Many of Smith's LPs of live material have served as
sources for modern-day restorations, since a lot of that material seems to
be unique, but the TAP records, in my experience, were all just copies of
commercial 78's. Those 78's themselves would undoubtedly be far superior
as source material for any present project.
One of those questions to which I have never found an answer is what
happened to all of Smith's vast collection of incredible live material when
he died? There are so many things on his records that do not seem to exist
On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 12:06 PM, Gary A. Galo <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I agree with Dennis. Since most of what Eddie Smith issued on his various
> labels was technically illegal, no one can really claim rights. I'd be
> interested in hearing from John Haley on this.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dennis Rooney
> Sent: Monday, December 04, 2017 12:01 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Who, if anyone, owns the rights to TAP Records?
> If I recall correctly, TAP Lps were all compilations of 78rpm discs, which
> were themselves pirated from the original source owners. Ergo, the
> subsistence of any rights in them is highly dubious.
> On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 9:40 AM, 6295LARGE . <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Hello everyone
> > TAP (Top Artists Platters) was created by the late Eddie Smith, but
> > does anyone own the rights currently?
> > Thanks,
> > Ben Roth
> 1006 Langer Way
> Delray Beach, FL 33483