Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recording Artists Claiming Copyright in Their Old Recordings

The NY Times's Larry Rohter has recently written a couple of articles (this and this) about a hitherto little-noticed provision of the 1976 copyright law that apparently allows copyright in master recordings made since 1978 to be transfered from record labels to individual artists after thirty-five years have elapsed.  Record labels are gearing up for a legal battle; Marc Myers hopes that a settlement will be reached, somehow.  But isn't this dispute really almost symbolic?  Back in 1960, when Ray Charles was one of the first big-name artists to own his own master recordings, sound-recording copyrights were a valuable commodity.  Those days are gone, now that the record industry's in a tailspin.  Musicians are going to have to stay on the road if they want to make money from performing.

Here's Ray Charles in 1963 (the saxophonist seated just to the right of the Raelettes is Tina Brooks):

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