Who owns all those live recordings?

Ben Challis has helpfully pointed out this article from the online edition of the New York Times. He says:

“This interesting article looks at the complex issue of ownership of archive TV recordings – especially where these now have a substantial value when incorporated into new formats such as DVD, downloads and internet streams and the article touches on the ongoing litigation over internet service ‘Wolfgangs’ Vault’ which is exploiting master tapes previously held in the private archive of legendary US promoter Bill Graham”.

Recordings of live performances are among the more difficult areas of copyright to work out who actually owns what, due to the complex combination of different and often conflicting copyright and contract issues. Anyone that manages to sort out these issues and sell DVDs of treasured recordings of popular artists' performances deserves to get something back. Making these performances available on the internet without all the copyright owners’ consent is, however, not playing the game.
Who owns all those live recordings? Who owns all those live recordings? Reviewed by David Pearce on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. So you're saying that IP rights are a reward for people that manage to avoid being trapped in complex IP law issues? Maybe IP law should be even more complex, to reward only the people that really deserve it, us lawyers!

  2. I'm not saying that at all. IP rights are not a reward in themselves, but are a way of being able to make money out of investment. Others should not be able to freeload off this.

  3. When I was in private practice, I represented the defendant in the article, but before the suit was brought. The issues are inordinately complex, including figuring out different federal copyright laws, state laws, contracts, factual differences, and claims by a host of folks, including record labels to which the bands had signed but which were not in any way involved in the recordings. The question is not, therefore, making the performances available without all the copyright owners' consent, but who the relevant copyright owners are, a matter about which there is much dispute. On top of that, we have very different rules in the U.S. on joint authorshp than you have in the UK, and we have in the United States a compulsory license for streaming so mere streaming does not require consent at all.


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