Saturday, April 09, 2005


Does anyone quite understand how the courts found for Capitol in the battle with Naxos? Naxos had been reissuing records from the 1930s by the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, Edwin Fisher and Pablo Casals, on the not entirely unsound grounds they were out of copyright. However, EMI had a cow, brought legal action and a New York court has ruled that even though the recordings are out of copyright, they're still protected by "common law". In other words, the court has decided that copyright would appear to actually be meaningless concept.

Now, surely that can't be right? Either you have a copyright term, which ends, and the recordings are public domain, or the recordings are perpetually covered by common law. You can't have both. And clearly, the RIAA (of which EMI is, like, a big part) have been fighting very hard for copyright terms to be extended, so clearly they believe that it's the copyright which is important. The New York judgement seems to contradict that rule - for what's the point in a term-limited protection if it merely duplicates the protection of some other legislation?


Anonymous said...

I have to say that it left me boggled when I read about it on the BBC the other day as well. The Federal copyright act doesn't/didn't extend to sound recordings made pre-1972, so supposedly, they don't have the extended life given to things such as Mickey Mouse et al. I think the gist is that the court decided that this wasn't particularly fair, so if the decision stands on further appeal, sound recordings will have the same protection as other creations.

It's worth pointing out that the songs in question are in the public domain in the UK, because the record companies seemed to forget about their campaign to extend recording protection as last year came to an end.

- Ian

Anonymous said...

(apologising for the readability of that last paragraph, and pointing out that the decision only applies to the state of New York…)

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