On Mon, 23 Jan 2006, steven c wrote:
> Tom Fine wrote:
> I get into this whenever it comes up because nobody is really sticking up
for the next generation of the people who create our recordings and music.
Who will, for the most part, be badly treated by the record companies
they sign contracts with...and, as well, not be able to market
their recordings elsewhere unless they remake them, since the
copyrights in most cases belong to the companies (who often
take other royalty rights as well!)
Speaking from personal experience...On my label we feature the pianist
Barbara Nissman. Her career was on a roll until her husband was diagnosed
with cancer. She retreated for ten years and is trying to restart her
career. She recorded the Sonatas of Prokofiev and the Piano music of
Ginastera for NewPort Classics. They sold quite well. NewPort sold out to
Sony, now Sony-BMG. In an effort to get her name before the public again,
she asked Sony their plans to reissue the recordings...even the Penguin
guide lists the Prokofiev set as the best complete version of the Sonatas...
Sony said, no to the reissue. Fortunately we were able to negotiate a
contract with a sympathetic individual at Sony...who was later
fired...cause not related to anything other than a lack of interest in
We are trying to negotiate the rerelease of the Ginastera Cello Concertos
as played by the composer's widow. Not as easy this time around.
Here is an instance where ownership is easy to trace. As pointed out,
ownership is often not easy to trace, even when it comes to print
copyrights which have far more in public domain...I had trouble paying
mechanical rights to release a Violin Concerto by Lopatnikoff. I had
borrowed the score from the Schirmer rental library. When it came time to
pay the rights, Schirmer said the work wasn't in their catalog! It took
me about six letters, plus a copy of the invoice issued at the time when I
had borrowed the score from them before they were willing to accept
payment for the mechanical rights.
I am also reminded of the stories I heard from two different sources
mentioning what a struggle it was for the Kapell family to get BMG reissue
the recordings of the great pianist William Kapell.
As it was mentioned before, but another example might help...even when a
company is willing to give you a license, they can ask for a minimum. Argo
wanted payment for a minimum of 10,000 copies for a disc of the music of
Schoenfeld. No way could I expect sales of 10,000!
For me, (wearing my record producer hat), I find it difficult to see the
justification for the current US copyrights of sound recordings.
Should a patent be in perpetuity?
For me, the most neglected consideration in all of the discussions is the
"right to know." I believe that recordings have value as intellectual
information and are not just a commercial product. The current laws make
no allowance for this consideration.
(wearing my educator-researcher hat) as I have mentioned before, in my
class on American Music I cannot play a recording of the Violin Concerto
by Edward Burlingame Hill (one of the composers we study) because the only
copy resides in Library of Congress and is hypothetically (I use the term
hypothetically since ownership of a broadcast may not be implicit...my
sources being two copyright "experts") owned by the performing
organizations who are not willing to allow for the copying of that
performance. Their rationale being, from what I have been told, a fear of
offending the Union.
Hopefully, with the availability of a means for low cost distribution (via
the internet) copyright owners will be able to make a substantial portion
of their vast holdings available...and that they will see the
cost of the restoration of these recordings as a reasonable expense.
As I write this, I am reminded of stories Jon Samuels told me. Jon
produced the Kapell set for BMG. When BMG shut down part of their
operation devoted to in house transfers, Jon told me that he bought some
of their equipment for a "song."
I believe there are solutions, but it seems to me that we still need to
make it clear that indeed there is a problem.