Are The Record Labels Using Bluebeat's Bogus Copyright Defense To Avoid Having To Give Copyrights Back To Artists?
from the oh,-those-record-labels dept
Luckily, soon after this passed a few people did notice, leading to a big uproar from artists, and an eventual backtracking from Congress, who never did believe the RIAA's line that this "change" just "clarified existing law" rather than changed it entirely.
But, it's important to remember all of this when discussing termination rights for music. Back in October, we had discussed how the songs of many top musicians were quickly approaching those termination rights, and some of the major record labels stood to lose the copyrights on some of their biggest hit albums. Wired recently ran a similar article about this "ticking time bomb," and I wasn't going to post it, because I wasn't sure it added much new, until reader Mesanna pointed out one little factoid down at the bottom:
The second option is to re-record sound recordings in order to create new sound recording copyrights, which would reset the countdown clock at 35 years for copyright grant termination. Eveline characterized the labels' conversations with creators going something like, "Okay, you have the old mono masters if you want -- but these digital remasters are ours."Now, of course that sounds ridiculous, to hear that record labels can get a new copyright on just remastering a work... but, that sounds an awful lot like the argument made by Bluebeat.com, concerning its "psycho-acoustic simulation" re-recordings of famous songs, that enabled it to claim a new copyright. Now, the record labels are crying foul about this, and the vast majority of copyright law experts say that Bluebeat's claim has no chance at all. But, if that's the case, then the record labels own attempts to get new copyrights on remastered albums to avoid the termination rights might also be in jeopardy. It seems like any argument that is made against Bluebeat can soon be used against the labels as well if they really do try to claim copyright on remastered albums.
Labels already file new copyrights for remasters. For example, Sony Music filed a new copyright for the remastered version of Ben Folds Five's Whatever and Ever Amen album, and when Omega Record Group remastered a 1991 Christmas recording, the basis of its new copyright claim was "New Matter: sound recording remixed and remastered to fully utilize the sonic potential of the compact disc medium."