On 7/30/2013 8:06 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Whatever, I think that's the job of those wanting the taxpayer to
> preserve their productions. Give it to the LOC with a blanket release,
> with the known intent to be wide, no-cost distribution via the LOC's
> website at the earliest possible time. Otherwise, it's just a boondoggle
> where the taxpayers are bearing the cost and getting zero benefit. It
> gets worse than that. What about the LOC's own in-house recordings of
> poetry and music, made in their own auditorium? Where are those sounds?
> Locked away, for the most part. They should be online, available to all
> Americans. And, LOC-produced anthologies should never be out of print
> (and I really think that you shouldn't have to pay for a copy if you
> actually pay income taxes).
It's not theirs to give -- at least not all of it.

Mention was made of the program featuring blues music hosted by B. B. 
King. Let's say the program included Fred McDowell singing "61 Highway 
Blues". Mississippi Public Broadcasting doesn't own that song; Fred 
McDowell does (or, now his hears do). No doubt at the time the show was 
made, he signed a release authorizing them to broadcast his performance 
one time, or a certain specified number of times. The fact that we 
taxpAayers paid for the camera operators and sound engineers and editors 
and videotape doesn't mean that we own the intellectual property 
represented by that song. We don't. We probably own the IP represented 
by the narration, but not the song.

Similar problems have held up the re-release of the documentary series 
"Eyes on the Prize" -- rights to use the photos and film footage in that 
series were negotiated with the owners for limited use, and re-releasing 
meant tracking down all those owners (or their heirs) and re-negotiating 
the rights. It's a daunting prospect -- fortunately, the folks at PBS 
(or whoever did "Eyes on the Prize") were tenacious, and did the legwork 
required -- but there was a lot of it.

Just because something appears in a taxpayer-funded production doesn't 
me we own everything in it. The photos in "Eyes" belong to hundreds of 
owners, including small-town newspapers, wire services, and private 
individuals, and the film footage rights belong to TV networks and local 
stations, mostly commercial rather than public.

Similar considerations would apply to any musical program. Rights to the 
songs belong to the composers and their heirs, and while we were paying 
for the camera ops and sound techs, we didn't buy the songs outright, so 
we don't own them, and the TV station that produced the series almost 
certainly doesn't own them either.