*Bob Dylan* Freewheelin's outtakes CD (SONY copyright issues)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by bobcat, Dec 28, 2012.

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  1. Heart of Gold

    Heart of Gold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Turin,Italy
    The released tapes can revert to the artist after 50 years, if the company doesn't promotes enough the sale. If I instead own a copy of an unpublished recording (50 years) of Chuck Berry or Dylan, I can legitimely release and sell it in Europe. In Europe, the European Law prevails on the foreign copyright laws. In US, The American Copyright Law applies itself to the copyright subject, indipendently from the other national copyright laws. The America hasn't suscribed all the International Copyright Treats, which treated differently the subject (generally with shorter copyright terms).
     
  2. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC
    Okay and thanks for your great answers above.

    But in this case, the European law says that after 50 years, the rights to any unreleased song can revert back to the original performers. Now, the USA copyright differs from this. So how can a European law force the hand of a record company not based in Europe? I guess that this will eventually have to be settled by an international court wherein all of the countries agree to the same copyright law. Otherwise, it'll be a chaotic result.

    Arnie
     
  3. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    I'm not sure where Sony/Columbia is based - Japan? The U.S.A.? Who knows? The question isn't where Sony/Columbia is based, it's where it does business. If it does business in Europe, it has to comply with European laws - not just European laws on copyright, but European laws on taxation, on advertising, etc. Sony/Columbia clearly sells Bob Dylan albums in Europe - I've been there, I've seen them in the record stores - so it has to comply with European copyright law with regard to Bob Dylan albums it sells in Europe. The big loophole, of course, is that, in this day and age, I can get on Amazon.co.uk from my laptop in the U.S.A. and order the following 1961 Bob Dylan material that has fallen into the public domain in Europe, and have it mailed to me in the U.S.A.

    [​IMG]

    So you're right, in a sense, that, in this day and age, copyright law is only as strong as its "weakest link" worldwide. While I highly doubt that there is going to be an international copyright court anytime soon, it is obvious that corporations such as Sony/Columbia will exert all the pressure they can on European governments to make their copyright laws fall into line with those in the U.S.A., so that I can't order E.U. public domain releases and have them shipped to America.
     
  4. John Rhett Thomas

    John Rhett Thomas Forum Resident

    Location:
    Macon, GA, USA
    Yeah, this is where I stand philosophically.
     
  5. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    But, again, was this Dylan's decision to put this material out? From everything I've read, no, it was not. It was Sony's decision. In fact, that decision may well have been prompted, at least in part, by Sony's fear that, if it didn't put this material out before the original 50-year copyright term had expired, Dylan could gain control of the master tapes*, and be free to decide himself, with zero input from Sony, what to do with it. What happened here is not some big victory for "the artist's wishes" or for artists' rights in general.

    * See the following article from the New York Times about Dylan trying to regain control of some of his publishing copyrights under a similar provision of U.S. copyright law:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/a...le-to-recover-song-rights.html?pagewanted=all

    If you really cared about "what the artist wants," you wouldn't support what Sony has done here: namely, put out a hyper-limited release of unreleased Dylan recordings from 1962, in order to keep control of those recordings away from the artist for 70 more years, on top of the 50 years for which they've already had control of them.
     
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  6. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    I wrote to someone I know who works on the legal side for Sony about this. He just wrote back:


     
    Heart of Gold likes this.
  7. Good to know these are CD-R's, I lost interest right there (I can make my own CD-R's if I feel like it, but I just don't like CD-R's since they simply don't last long enough).

    When Sony sees the high eBay prices, they might consider releasing the set officially as pressed CD's for around $50 or so. I wouldn't be surprised.
     
  8. The Hud

    The Hud Breath of the Kingdom, Tears of the Wild

    Since the article says they plan to release the material on a later date, I will wait until then.
     
  9. Marc 74

    Marc 74 Senior Member

    Location:
    West Germany,NRW
    You can buy CD-R copies from the original CD-Rs(or from the download?)without artwork now on discogs for 20$...
     
  10. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    Fair point. Dylan is an icon with the clout to have renegotiated his contracts with Sony/Columbia to the point that he has veto power over archival releases that your run-of-the-mill 1962 recording artist doesn't have. The really scary situation under these new laws is where a record company employs Sony's techical use-it-or-lose-it strategy to prevent the rights to a minor artists' catalog from reverting to the artist - and then sits on that catalog and doesn't really keep it in print. If the 1961 album of Forgotten Folksinger X falls into the EU public domain, that artist will at least receive mechanical publishing royalties on the songs he wrote - even from a public domain release.
     
  11. No surprise. It's not a secret that Dylan/Dylan's management is pretty much in total control when it comes to what is released in his name. He's such a big name that it would be bad PR even for a big corparation like Sony to piss him off and he's so wealthy at this point that he's not afraid of going to court. He spent nearly 20 years fighting his former manager Albert Grossman (the case was settled after Grossman's death, mostly in Dylan's favor), so he's not afraid of legal challenges.
    Dylan stopped recording at Columbia studios after "Desire" to give him complete control over the recordings. Since then, the deal is pretty much that Dylan delivers the master tapes to Columbia and they release them.
    I don't know if Dylan himself is a great businessman, but he's been surrounded by people with a good sense of the $$$ side of things for many years.
    That said, this release seems like a rushed, last-minute thing to handle a unique situation they hadn't handled before. That accidental duplication of tracks proves there was little if any Quality Control before this release hit the stores (well, four of them at least).
     
  12. True, the songwriter (as long as the song is not public domain and that could theoretically be several decades after the recording is PD, with current EU laws) is entitled to royalties even if the recording is in the public domain.
     


  13. Current European copyright legislation states that beyond 50 years tracks made before June 1, 1957 are out of copyright WHETHER RELEASED OR NOT. As the Dylan tracks were made in the early 1960s, they are still copyrighted.

    To be exact, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) [see http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/Ukpga_19880048_en_1.htm] confirms that the term of copyright in any recording made before June 1, 1957, whether published or not, is to endure from the end of the year in which the recording was made.
     
  14. John Rhett Thomas

    John Rhett Thomas Forum Resident

    Location:
    Macon, GA, USA
    Yes, but we're not talking about a record company exploiting a minor artists' catalog, we're talking about Sony and Dylan. My guess about how this kind of thing sorts out between the parties has seemingly been affirmed by kwadguy in post #131: nothing comes out without Bob's approval.

    I'm very sympathetic to artist concerns over catalog exploitation. I remember having a conversation with Bonnie Owens in the early '00s about her Capitol solo material, none of which had been released in any meaningful way. She had been asking them to release it, or return the masters to her so she could release it. They basically ignored her. She was reduced to selling under the table needledrop cds on Merle Haggard's tour to put anything of hers out and make a little scratch along the way. I thought it was unconscionable then, even more so after she died Bear Family finally put her stuff out. I haven't even looked on iTunes to see if she's been made available, maybe she has.

    That's not the situation here. Looking squarely and only at Bob, it's obvious Sony (and by extension, Bob) have a marketing plan in place. You and I are hardcore Dylan fans, and there can never be enough legitimately released Bob stuff out there for us. But apparently they don't see fit to cater to us beyond the Bootleg Series releases we've been getting. I accept that because it's in accord with Bob's desires to manage the output of his creative efforts. I tried like to hell to score a copy of this Europe-only CD release but came up empty. Tough for me. That's just the way it is.
     
  15. Dylan's folks planned this move only because European public domain companies like Proper already announced they would release "Freewheelin' Outtakes" and Finjan Club in January. Dylan/Sony also may have postdated some home recordings. No one knows exactly when the MacKenzie home recordings were made. Some of them are usually dated as 1961, some of them are dated as 1962. Dylan/Sony dated them all as 1962, to make sure they were covered.
     
  16. Heart of Gold

    Heart of Gold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Turin,Italy
    The Death of Emmet Till, from The Mackenzie Tapes, was written on 29 January 1962. Dylan talked about it to Izzy Young on 1st February 1962(see Clinton Heylin).
     
  17. jsb!

    jsb! Forum Resident

    So, here's a challenge for anyone who's listened properly to all four discs: how would you edit this down to a plausible two-disc official release? Which are the best versions of each song? I've started listening but realised that just going straight through may not be the best approach (too much repetition, and I haven't listened to any 'Mixed-Up Confusion' yet, even...).

    Pretend Dylan's people have asked you to prepare this for a two-disc BS release - which takes do you recommend?
     
  18. Sean Murdock

    Sean Murdock Forum Intruder

    Location:
    Bergenfield, NJ
    It would be an easier task if this was a 4-CD set of studio outtakes. Instead, we have 2 CDs of Freewheelin' outtakes -- which could be whittled to one fairly easily -- and 2 CDs of home recordings and live recordings. I could see a single disc of studio takes being used as a bonus disc in a Deluxe Freewheelin' set someday, and separate releases of "Home Recordings" and a "Live 1962" set -- but I don't see a 2-CD set drawn from THIS release being issued at any time.
     
  19. windfall

    windfall Senior Member

    Location:
    UK
  20. jsb!

    jsb! Forum Resident

    Ah yeah, good point - I'd forgotten there is a range of sources on this collection. You're probably right that they won't all be released together ever. But I don't think the out-takes will be attached to a deluxe Freewheelin', if only because he's never done that sort of release before. More likely to be a stand-alone set, or maybe combined with other out-takes from that period. But who knows what they'll do?
     
  21. Sean Murdock

    Sean Murdock Forum Intruder

    Location:
    Bergenfield, NJ
    The fact that Bob's never done a "deluxe" album reissue before only makes it more likely that he WILL do it at some point in the future ... ;) ... I think a disc of outtakes like these ("Rocks and Gravel," "Mixed Up Confusion," "Sally Gal," "Emmett Till," et al.) would be very attractive as a bonus disc placed in context with the official album -- but as a "Bootleg Series" release? Yawn. Let's face it -- these are all tracks that were already passed over for Bootleg Series 1-3 and Bootleg Series 7, and only a few of them were considered grievous omissions. But as you said -- who knows what they'll do? I believe, as the source in one of the posts indicated above, that Bob's people are very on top of this, and they have "a plan" for all the vault material. My concern is: Will I live to see (hear) all (or most) of it?
     
  22. mrjinks

    mrjinks Optimistically Challenged

    Location:
    Boise, ID.
    Don't know that I agree with that theory. There wasn't a "3rd disc" of Witmark demos to include at a premium price, or Sony/Dylan's people *might* have just decided to charge us a premium for it. And let's not forget that the Bootleg Series release which preceded TTS also came with an extra disc for free (depending where/when you bought it):
    [​IMG]
     
  23. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    If I were an EU public domain label, I would argue that Sony's release of one hundred copies of this material shouldn't qualify as a release under EU copyright law: it's clearly an attempt to do the bare minimum to comply with the letter of the law, while violating the spirit of the law. Is this a winning argument? I don't know, and Sony clearly has more money to bring to bear in litigation than any public domain label does, so they may just get away with what they've done through a war of attrition.
     
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  24. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    This is the core issue here. You can thank the current, but about-to-change, EU copyright laws for getting to hear this material while you are still alive. When and if the EU laws do change, you and I may well both be dead before Sony gets around to releasing a similarly comprehensive set of, say, the Basement Tapes material. Certainly a portion of Dylan's original fanbase is dying off every year now.

    In the grand scheme of things, I suppose no one has an inherent right to hear every note that Dylan ever recorded, but, as I noted above, we've already pretty much reached that point with jazz artists such as Charlie Parker, where every note he ever played in the presence of a recording device is out there in one way or another, and Dylan's body of work will receive the same treatment sooner or later. The only question, as you note, Sean, is whether material such as the rumored complete Blonde on Blonde sessions will come out while you and I are still alive to hear it.
     
  25. Heart of Gold

    Heart of Gold Forum Resident

    Location:
    Turin,Italy
    With a so limited release, I doubt that Sony Records can successfully take actions against the "grey market".
     
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