At 07:33 PM 11/24/2004 -0500, Steven C. Barr wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>

> > One last bit of absurdity (in my opinion) in the law. I want to issue some
> > pre 1954 programs from the French Broadcasting Corporation. Some of you
> > probably remember the series "Masterworks from France." These performances
> > are public domain in France, yet, my reading of the law suggests that
> > they were not public domain in the US in 1996? they are subject to the US
> > copyrights and I cannot issue them in the US.
>However, in this case, the sound recordings would be p.d. in France...their
>country of origin...and the US is only empowered to enforce whatever
>copyrights exist. The recordings are subject to the laws under which they
>were made, and thus there is no "US copyright." However, if a US record
>firm had issued the recordings, that issue might well carry a copyright,
>so you would have to prove your reissue was from the French original and
>not from the US issue.

One request for Steven first: Please put a blank line between the quoted
text and your reply. When the quote is long and your comment is buried in
it, the reply is easily lost.

There are other issues here. One is the changes to the original before the
clock starts anew. I'm told that one European court has ruled that rights
are in the original only - which is clearly unfair to the engineers and
publishers responsible for reissues. On the other hand, I'd suggest that
allowing any reissue to start the clock over is unfair to the public; it
encourages pointless repackaging and early withdrawal of the prior product
from the market.

Another bone of contention is the difference between the U.S. and
international dating schemes. The starting point in America is the date of
fixing; elsewhere, it is the date of issue. In most material, the
distinction may be unimportant, but in fields of interest to me important
material has often languished unpublished for eighty years or so. An
interesting situation would arise with a tape of a previously 'lost'
broadcast from (say) 1950. I believe the European standard would give fifty
years from issue. The American standard is ninety-five years (with the
twenty-year special case), but from date of fixing. It was fixed in 1950,
so is protected until 2045 in the U.S.; it was not issued until 2004, so is
protected in Europe until 2054. Surely, there's some place where the
starting point and duration both work in the public's favor - Swaziland,
perhaps? Any pressing plants in Swaziland?

Step away from mechanical copyright and other issues arise. How much change
in a work makes that a 'new' version? In no form of music of which I'm
aware is the score a straitjacket precluding innovation. Opera in its way
has the same sort of improvisation as jazz, though usually not as much. We
may not care if the Joachim cadenza to Beethoven's concerto created a fresh
copyright, but we do for modern equivalents. Once again, there's no reason
to believe that U.S. interpretation will match other countries'.

If we had global laws, we could seek global interpretation.


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