Protecting intellectual property is one of the most important matters of business in the entertainment industry. After all, people in the industry make their livings through sales, licensing deals and other transactions that depend upon copyright and other exclusive rights. When someone else is using protected material without permission, it can mean money out of one’s pocket. Of course, protecting these rights is easier said than done. Copyright law is especially difficult, not only because of the Internet, which has made copying and distributing without permission nearly effortless, but also because, with older works, it is often difficult to sort out who has what rights.
Recently, a group of nearly 100-year-old recordings became the subject of a copyright dispute that could take a long time to resolve. The recordings were released last fall by Third Man Records and Revenant Records as “The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-1932)” and packaged in an elaborate “cabinet of wonder” containing 800 digital files and six vinyl LPs, all collected in a handsome wooden case. Third Man’s founder, Jack White, is well known as the former guitarist and singer of the White Stripes, so the release received a lot of attention, despite the fact that the box set’s esoteric subject matter (old blues and jazz records) and high price tag ($400) seem destined to keep sales low.
Now, a nonprofit organization claims that it holds the copyrights to some of the works in the set and that Third Man used them without its permission. The George H. Buck Jr. Jazz Foundation claims that it holds the copyrights on almost 800 songs in the collection, and claims to have documentation to that effect. In a statement, Third Man management said that it will be open to negotiating a deal with the foundation, but has yet to see convincing evidence that it holds the copyrights to the songs in question.
Sometimes, sorting out intellectual property disputes in the entertainment business requires the skills of an historian, a lawyer, a businessperson and a scientist. It is important for people in Florida’s entertainment industry to seek out help for their intellectual property disputes from attorneys with experience in many aspects of entertainment law.
Source: Spin, “Jack White’s Third Man Faces Legal Questions Over Paramount Box Set,” Marc Hogan, Feb. 3, 2014