Let me offer a novel approach to one of the scenarios in question which
to my knowledge has not
been previously presented:

Let us say a regional band(Los Cyberians) got together the money to
press an album in 1971(Cyberian Wine Tour).
The Cyberians did not register their original songs with any performing
rights society.
They did not send in a form SR to the LOC because such a form did not
They looked in the phonebook then went to a pressing plant and decided
on a name for their label,
usually a female name spelled backwards will suffice for this purpose.
They did not establish
a real corporate entity, instead they opted for the drummer's address
as the office of the label
because his mom let him use the triangular room above the garage for
official band business.
The initial pressing run of 500 proved to be an ample supply, as the
record only sold 217 copies
not including the 3 they gave away to the local college radio station.
In short, there
are at best 265 copies of this album in used record stores and yard
sales around the world,
counting the 15 copies that are in the hands of rabid collectors who
realize this forgotten
gem is truly superb music that never found its audience.

Phonolog is consulted and indeed no trace of the Cyberians album exists.
But, the fifteen copies in the hands of private collectors become
testimonials to this amazing garage ensemble. Finally, one of the
collectors decides
to share this lost classic with the world by getting an audiophile
turntable a high-end
sound system and transfer the vinyl to a CD. In the process he cleans
up some surface
noise and de-clicks the program very gently, he goes on to compress and
eq the source
and at the end of a week the album has been turned from a noisy
semi-professional outing
into a rounded professional product with punch, detail and wide
frequency response.

He decides to re-issue the album on a small label for the devotees that
exist for garage
based music of this genre. However, even though he has carefully
searched for anyone
who claimed ownership he found no one. This mercurial guy went ahead
and established a bank
account for the band and began paying royalties and publishing into an
escrow account
as though the band had been found. He did this and accounted to the
band for every dollar
that would be owed in standard licensing agreement for a song licensed
to a major label
soundtrack for example.

On Monday, July 21, 2003, at 04:16 PM, [log in to unmask] wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "James L Wolf" <[log in to unmask]>
>>    The "use it or lose it" proposal is pretty much unworkable and
>> unfair, unless one applied it only after a long period of time like 50
>> years or so. Otherwise, any indie publishers would have to keep stuff
>> in
>> print without any lapses to keep their copyrights. Just bringing down
>> the length of copyright to somewhere under 170+ years might be a
>> better
>> start.
> Well, I'm mainly thinking in terms of sound recordings...most of which
> have
> very short "half-lives!" However, in this current digital age, all
> (print)
> indie publishers would have to keep would be the final printable file,
> usually in a graphics program; open it, hit "Print" and bind the
> results,
> and there's a book. There might be problems with movies and the like
> (though they could be kept in digital form as well).
> It would, though, eliminate the problem where "Globazized, Inc." holds
> the
> near-perpetuasl rights to a recording, and can tell you "Well, we're
> not
> going to reissue it...but we won't let YOU!"
>>    As to the second suggestion, it's my understanding that recordings
>> made by corporations which "died intestate" are de facto Public Domain
>> (and the intellectual content as well if pre-1923). If no-one can
>> claim
>> ownership, no-one can claim infringement. Emerson is a good example of
>> this.
> The problem is we don't always know what is and isn't "public domain."
> Take NYRL (Paramount) for example...they apparently sold out to Gennett
> in 1932, and Gennett apparently sold out to Decca in 1934...but that's
> only as best I know, and depends on whether the buy-outs included
> perpetual rights to everything they had ever recorded. Oberstein
> reissued a fair amount of Crown on his Varsity/et al lines...but did
> he buy the rights or just find the stampers at RCA from the days when
> the latter pressed Crown?
> ...stevenc