Sunday, August 22, 2010

Copyright bummer may rain on jazz-lovers' parade

The New York Times ran an editorial Sunday discussing the potentially bad news that a full release of a legendary treasure trove of jazz recordings that was recently sold to the National Jazz Museum will be delayed while the Harlem museum figures out how to properly pay the musicians' estates for the recordings.

The recordings in question are hours of recordings made of radio broadcasts in the 1930s and 40s by jazz fan William Savory. Savory captured extended improvisations on classic jazz tunes played by some of the greatest artists of the century -- Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and Ella Fitzgerald to name three.

So here's the bummer -- until all of the artists' estates can be contacted and give their consent to their release, the music will have to stay at the National Jazz Museum.

At issue is the concept of "orphan works," works that were published after 1923 (and thus are presumably still under copyright) but whose owners cannot be found. The law as it stands does not allow orphan works to be used without permission.

Read more about orphan works here.
And about the Savory Collection here.

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