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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) BS: Copyright and folk (48) RE: BS: Copyright and folk 26 Sep 00

Thomas the Rhymer, some distinctions are necessary. One must distinguish between (1) copyright in a recording, and (2) copyright in the unerlying music on the record. Furthermore one must distinguish between (a) valid claims of copyright and (b) spurious claims. I have understood this thread to be about spurious or exaggerated claims of copyright in words and music (this is the topic of Prof. Heald's articles, linked above) rather than about valid claims of copyright in recordings.

You are right that a performer might have a valid claim of copyright in a recording of his own performance even of public domain music, (though a recent change in the law applying to "works for hire" made the "default lot" of recording artists harder--Congress is considering repealing this change) and that the recording artist should read all agreements carefully and take measures to document and protect any rights she might have.

Even when we take your advice to protect ourselves then be generous, (I would prefer the word "reasonable") we should keep in mind that there may be unintended consequences to the protection. We ourselves may be reasonable to those who wish to use our copyrights. But the term of copyright is now so crushingly long that we can't be sure that our offspring who inherit our copyrights, or whatever Megacorp ends up owning them, will be as generous as we are. This is one of the reasons why I say that everything good that copyright does, it does in a term of about 40 or fewer years. Everything bad that copyright does is made worse the longer the term exceeds this.


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