The Grammy In Mathematics... Or Copyright Infringement?

from the you-decided dept

Slashdot points us to the absolutely fascinating story of how Woody Guthrie's daughter was able to restore the only recording of her father's live performance, that had been bootlegged using an old obsolete recording device. It took quite a bit of effort to restore the recording on an old wire-based device, and the effort got the mathematician who handled the restoration nominated for a Grammy, which he won. However, what struck me most about the story is that these days, people would be focused on how that simple act of recording would have been copyright infringement back when it occurred. Shouldn't we be happy that exactly that kind of infringement is now what allows us to hear Guthrie perform live? I'm sure Guthrie himself would agree. After all, he famously had a rather similar view of copyrights to many of us around here: "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do." Unfortunately, those who manage Guthrie's estate haven't always been so kind -- so it's nice to see they recognized this recording as a potential gem, rather than an unauthorized recording.
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Filed Under: bootlegs, copyright, grammy, restoration, woody guthrie


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  1. identicon
    ehrichweiss, 13 Feb 2008 @ 7:51am

    Re: There are two elements to copyright in this ca

    The bootlegger doesn't own the songs, just the recording thereof. If the artist found out about the bootlegs and seized them, they actually could not then sell or distribute them without the bootlegger's permission. Ironic but I've seen it in action when bands break up, bitterly.

    Your assertion about the engineer is true however engineers are under contract to make the recording for the artists and the contract then implies copyright will be handed over to the artist.

    IANAL but I have enough experience that I could claim I slept at Holiday Inn or something..;)

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