Shortly after Christmas, Sony Music released a compilation of Bob Dylan recordings that the New York Times reported “is bound to become one of his most collectible albums.” Sony produced only about 100 copies of “The 50th Anniversary Collection,” a four-CD set of previously unreleased studio outtakes and live recordings from 1962 and 1963. Copies were “rushed to only a handful of record shops in Germany, France, Sweden and Britain,” and a downloadable version is available through the singer’s website, but only to fans who log on from France or Germany. This has locked out many American collectors, although the Times reported that “several have made their way to eBay, where bids have gone as high as about $1,450.”
The real reason behind the compilation can actually be found in its subtitle: “The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1.” Two spokesmen for Sony told the Times that the point of the release was to keep the recordings under copyright protection in Europe, “where the laws are in flux.” While recordings made since 1978 will remain copyrighted in the United States until 70 years after the death of the last surviving author, recordings in Europe can currently be copyrighted for 50 years. The European Union extended copyright to 70 years after revising its copyright laws in 2011.
However, the Times reported that the change takes effect in 2014 and contains a catch known as the “use it or lose it” provision: “recordings cannot benefit from the 20-year extension unless they were published before the 50-year term expired.” According to the Times, the recordings on the Dylan compilation “were about to fall over that legal precipice.”
“The 50th Anniversary Collection” features recordings from the sessions for Dylan’s second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” including alternative takes of “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Bob Dylan’s Dream” and “I Shall Be Free.” The Times said there are also “seven increasingly rollicking versions” of “Mixed Up Confusion,” and three takes of the Robert Johnson blues classic “Milkcow’s Calf Blues.” “So far, few record labels have responded to the pending shift in European copyright protection by releasing copious amounts of archival material, although fans of bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are hoping that such releases are in the offing,” the Times reported.
It is important to understand how copyright laws protect your work, and we have additional information about intellectual property litigation available on our website. If you need help with copyright protection or filing a copyright claim, contact our firm at (323) 653-3900 or fill out the form on this page to let our Los Angeles copyright infringement lawyer review your case.
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