Jazz Pioneer 'Jelly Roll' Morton's Music Finally Free For Re-use In Europe -- A Hundred Years Too Late
from the what's-the-point? dept
A recent Techdirt post reminded us that thanks to its crazy copyright laws, the US won't be seeing anything new in the public domain for many years. But even in those "fortunate" countries that get to use cultural works a mere 70 years after the creator's death, the situation is still pretty absurd.
For example, The 1709 Blog notes that one notable pianist and composer entering the public domain in Europe is "Jelly Roll" Morton:
Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (‘Jelly Roll Morton’) was famous both for his musical talents and for his rather overconfident nature. His self-promotion as the 'inventor of jazz' has been disparaged by many a musician and critic, yet his considerable accomplishments speak for themselves.
Now, whether or not you accept his claims to be the "inventor" of jazz, there's no denying he was a real pioneer in this new art-form. So it's ridiculous that only now, nearly a century after he made those key contributions, are other musicians allowed legally to take his works and build on them in any way they like.
Fortunately, no one paid much attention to copyright in the early years of jazz, where tunes and chord sequences were routinely shared among musicians for others to explore and extend and then pass on in the same way. Indeed, we wouldn't have the amazing riches of the last hundred years of jazz had they not done so. The recent liberation of 'Jelly Roll' Morton's music from copyright, so long after it was used in precisely the ways that the public domain is supposed to encourage, emphasises the huge gulf between what the law says and what art needs.