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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sam Brylawski" <[log in to unmask]>
> Victoria's summary is really useful, I think. In the case of audio,
> consider this, too:
> There was no federal copyright registration process for sound
> recordings before Feb. 15, 1972. In my opinion, many "pre-'72"
> recordings *might* be considered orphans, too, because their rights
> holders are so difficult to track down. We may know how to contact
> Sony Music Entertainment rights offices for Victor and Columbia output
> but what about all the post-WWII independent labels? The challenges
> faced in compiling the NRPB study conducted by Tim Brooks and Steve
> Smolian, "Survey of Reissues of U.S. Recordings"
> (http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub133/pub133.pdf) are cases in
> point.
> 
> Also, I think that we can add most recordings of radio broadcasts to
> this category. 99.9% of them have certainly been abandoned by their
> rights holders, at least until a party with rights gets wind of
> someone trying to distribute them. It could be argued that these are
> the opposite of "orphans." They have too many parents. But the
> problems surrounding them are the same as those for orphans.
> 
> May I suggest that someone involved in the film orphans symposia
> summarize the objectives and accomplishments of these conferences?
> Then we can see how audio orphans might benefit from such attention.
> 
Of course, the current US copyright law simplifies things by placing
EVERY sound recording "fixed" in the US under protection until
January 1, 2067...the only thing about "orphan" recordings is there
is (presumably) nobody to sue one if one reissues such a recording
(unless the RIAA steps in?!)!

However, there were quite a number of independent record companies
in the 1919-1930 era...Grey Gull is the best example...that faded into
obscurity without bothering to sell off their recordings or the rights
thereunto; these are (fairly accurately) described as "orphan recordings"
since nobody currently owns them or their inherent rights...OTOH,
note that all the better-known labels of that era wound up absorbed
into the American Record Corporation in/after 1929!

Steven C. Barr