Rod Stephens wrote:
> Hello Karl,
> I've watched the back and forth discussion re: copyrights with much 
> interest for a personal reason.  During my personal time, I've been 
> remastering to CD recordings from 1/4" master tapes that were made from 
> 1951 to 1955 at small western college that I attended.  In fact, I was a 
> member of the choral ensemble that was the subject of the recordings, so 
> I guess that would make me one of the artists.  Also, the tapes were 
> recorded by a local engineer/dairyman (his hobby), and then, used to 
> make two commercial releases by Columbia Masterworks.  There are about 
> three more LPs that were released on Columbia's minor labels (Harmony, 
> Epic, etc.).  However, the masters have remained in the possession of 
> the succeeding conductors of the choir, and only recently were given to 
> me for remastering.  I have sold a small number of the CDs to choir 
> alumni (also, the "artists") who requested them, the cost of which, used 
> to cover my minor costs, and the balance sent to the current college 
> choir fund (a charitable donation).  The main thrust of this remastering 
> is to be part of an archive at the college which we alums are trying to 
> set up, so that there will be a history for the ongoing ensemble 
> carrying on the tradition, and others that can take pride in the 
> achievements that have been carried on at the school.
> So far, the current director of the ensemble, one of the school of music 
> professors, says that my remasterings are much better than the Columbia 
> LPs, but I credit that to the digital tools that I use today that 
> weren't available to the Columbia engineers.  Anyway, I feel that these 
> are substantially improved recordings and changed in the process.
> I guess I'm asking what the potential sale of these new renditions to 
> the public could trigger?  Or, is just the private sale to alums legal?  
> We wish to generate revenue to help set up the archive.  Again, 
> remember, the masters were produced by our own engineer and returned I 
> would guess after submastering to LP (the director who conducted and 
> took the masters has passed on, so I don't have any direct knowledge of 
> the process).  I'm pretty sure that these are the original masters due 
> to the writing and EQ settings on the tape boxes, and the manual splices 
> and manual editing.
> I'd appreciate any input on what I feel is a unique situation.

As always, it is necessary to note that I am not an attorney. The 
following is from my reading and a few discussions with attorneys.

It is essential to find out what agreement was signed with Columbia for 
the commercial releases. In all likelihood, it is limited to the titles 
they published, but it could have an exclusivity clause which goes farther.

Someone in the school's legal office should contact someone at CBS after 
reviewing the agreement. Under the circumstances, it is likely that CBS 
would waive any rights the agreement might have given them. It is even 
possible, though quite unlikely, that they would like to publish one or 
more of your transfers.

The essential point is that the college presumably had all rights 
initially unless there was a soloist under contract, in which case that 
agreement would also have to be checked. Some rights were granted to 
Columbia for publication; they are what probably need to be waived.

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