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Re: [ARSCLIST] Brunswick Records rights/Universal
Karl Miller wrote:
While I am not an lawyer, don't quote me...but it was my understanding:
Round one had Naxos being sued in Federal Court. The district court
(Federal) in the State of New York granted summary judgment to Naxos. The
reasons being cited included that even if Capitol had been given a license
to issue the EMI recordings, that the UK copyrights expired and that EMI
had lost ownership and did not have the right to sell license to Capitol
or anyone else for that matter. Other aspects of the decision included the
notion that "abandonment of copyright" (other companies had already issued
some of the material and had not been sued)
indicated that Capitol had no interest in the recordings, and further,
that Naxos' reissues were an improvement on the recordings. I also find it
interesting that the Federal court cited the notion that the original
recordings were obsolete.
I'm afraid you have been seriously misinformed. The lower court's
decision has been available and I commend it to you; it is surprisingly
readable for such a document. I am not an attorney of any sort but I was
interested enough to find the decision and to come to the following
conclusions relative to your post - reported here from memory.
1. Yes, UK copyright had expired.
2. The relationship between EMI and Capitol is more complex and I do not
believe it was addressed in the decision.
3. The "abandonment" was explicit in a formal letter from the president
of Capitol to Yale with respect to sale of transfers from the Yale
4. Naxos's improvement was part of the argument against Capitol's claim
of damages. In essence, the judge found that since Capitol had the
primary material, they could exploit Naxos's work if the market
justified the investment and thereby come up with a superior product.
5. Neither the judgement of "obsolete" nor any other value measure was
offered that I can recall. The decision was based on objective, legal
What the federal appeals court asked of the New York Supreme Court was
their position on the period of copyright in New York; the case was not
turned over or remanded to the state court (I believe that would be
impossible between jurisdictions) and I have not read the decision you
cite, but have saved it for review. Neither do I have any insight into
whether anyone will or has appealed further. I will say that the lower
court's summary judgement was one of the most comprehensive and most
clearly written I have seen. Unfortunately, that has little weight at
this stage or beyond.
Note that the Supreme Court position on copyright could be accepted
without compromising the district court's decision - for example, by
regarding the positive act of abandonment as having the effect of
placing the recordings in the public domain.