The record giants pick a side in a hot dispute over the performance of pre-1972 songs.
Two weeks ago, a California federal judge shocked many people in the musical and legal communities by letting CBS Radio beat a lawsuit over the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings. Even though state laws have recently been interpreted to protect the broadcast of these recordings without permission, the judge held that the changes made by sound engineers in the remastered versions were creative enough to enjoy a separate copyright as a derivative work. Since CBS was determined as performing these later versions that rendered no public performance compensation under federal law, it escaped the lawsuit.
The ruling triggered a "whoo boy" reaction in some quarters, thanks to the perceived potential that it would extend the copyright term indefinitely, that the recording giants would seek to hold onto copyright as long as possible by putting songs into new formats. Well, what does the Recording Industry Association of America really think?
An answer comes on Tuesday because CBS is fighting with the same plaintiff -- ABS Entertainment, owner of recordings by Al Green and others -- in New York.