Gershwin Heirs Fight Over Copyright Royalties
from the oh-please,-make-it-stop dept
The heirs of George and Ira Gershwin (the famous songwriting brothers) were leaders (right alongside Disney) in the fight for copyright extension a decade ago. They insisted that it wasn’t about the money, but about making sure that their work wasn’t presented in a way of which they disapproved (“Someone could turn ‘Porgy and Bess’ into rap music” was the complaint from Mark Gershwin, conveniently ignoring that much of the Gershwin’s work pulled concepts from African American music). Yet, if it’s not about money, why are the Gershwin heirs suddenly involved in legal battles all about who gets the money?
Copycense points us to the news of a variety of legal battles from the heirs on different sides of the family squabbling over who gets what rights to foreign royalties. Of course, they’re fighting over who still gets to make money on songs that were all written prior to 1937 (when George died). When those songs were written, the “promise” copyright gave them would have already put all those songs in the public domain by now. One would think these heirs (none of them actually direct descendants of either George or Ira — since neither had children) would be thrilled that the government went back on the promise it made to the public and granted them even more monopoly rents for a few more decades and kept quiet. But, apparently, that’s not the way these things go.