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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> Does anyone have any idea what percentage of commercially-produced 78's
are
> now in the PD?
In the US of A, exactly 0.00%. I don't know if the copyright laws placed
them under Federal copyright until 2067, or simply left the various state
laws (most of which have NO terms and thus no expiry dates) to protect
them. There are some 78's, such as Grey Gull, where the existing copyright
holder "died intestate" (the company went broke without selling their
masters or copyrights) which are functionally p.d. -- that is, there
is no one qualified to sue infringers!
> When, for instance, CBS/Sony re-issues Duke Ellington 78's as
> multi-CD collections, are those now re-copyrighted for 50+ years? And what
> about that guy Joe Buzzard down in Maryland -- is he just flying under the
> radar or is it perfectly legit for him to reissue all of his obscure
blues,
> country and bluegrass 78's? He comes off as a somewhat goofy collector,
but
> I get the sense he's a very shrewd business man too, and I wouldn't be
> surprised if his venture is pretty profitable even though it seems
> labor-intensive. I've read several interviews with him, but he never
> squarely addresses the copyright issue except to say he's never been
pursued
> or prosecuted.
>
As far as current reissues, this won't matter until 2068; nothing is p.d.
in the US of A until then. In other venues, I suspect it would be a
matter of proving that the processing used to prepare the reissue
might make those separate musical entities (which is how lawyers
get rich!). As far as small-scale private reissues, I would assume
that it is simply a case of their not seriously threatening the
business of the valid copyright holders (so don't try reissuing
Elvis!)

The record companies fought this battle once, in the late forties
(see Record Changer). A number of companies started reissuing dubs
of jazz rarities, and they sold well. The copyright holders,
such as CBS (which held the rights to a lot of stuff via ARC)
took exception...and two things happened. First, CBS filed suit
(against a party who had reissued some Armstrong sides...since
Armstrong had a contract calling for royalties on record sales,
which the indie guy wasn't paying, the court acted...), and then,
having discoved there was gold in them thar vaults, they
started reissing the stuff themselves!

However, the US record industry is in a fightin' mood these days,
what with all the digital piracy of current product...so I dunno
as I would want to cross them...

Steven C. Barr