Entertainer has argument with the studio producer/recording producer and walks out yet leaves master tape BEFORE the entertainer became famous yet its 40 years old
Did he throw it in the trash? Your statement is different than your topic question. If he abandoned it, ie throwing it in the trash anyone can take it. However, if there was some sort of contract in place that would be the controlling document to know rights.
The agreement between the artist and the studio will govern their relationship. The Entertainer probably has copyright in the musical composition and performance, while the studio may have rights in the arrangement of the musical recording. I don't know what rights the person who found the abandoned tape may have. Certainly not rights in the copyright, but the person may have ownership rights of the tape, itself. For more detailed analysis, I suggest that you retain an experienced copyright/IP attorney and provide your attorney with the Studio Agreement and other information in order to advise you in confidence.
For more detailed advice, I recommend that you contact an experienced Copyright/IP attorney to advise you in confidence about your options and potential costs. Many IP specialty firms, like ours, offer an initial free conference by telephone, video conference or in person if you are available locally and would be happy to speak with you. Call and speak with an experienced Copyright /IP attorney who can assist you.
Mr. Sack's postings on Avvo are of a general nature, based on the facts provided and are not intended to be taken as legal advice or to establish an attorney-client relationship.
This is not a terribly clear posting. If someone throws out a recording of anything in the trash then it is considered abandoned property. Anyone would be free to pull it out of the trash and use it for their own purposes. This is no different than anything else one finds in the trash. But the only property right that comes with the tape is ownership of that physical copy. Just because you pulled it out of the trash it does not convey any intellectual property rights like a copyright interest in the underlying work on the tape. In other words, if I write a screenplay and then decide to throw it away then you come by and pluck it out of the trash you are free to keep it and use for your own enjoyment. You cannot however make copies of it, distribute it, create derivative works based on it, license it elsewhere, etc. This is because I still own the copyright in the work, I just don't own that physical copy of it.
If you need further clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
I would need many more facts before advising you with certainty.
However, chances are that the producer or the studio that hired the producer and entertainer owns the copyright in the master tape, or shares it with the entertainer. It is also possible that there are songwriters, script writers, and others who share in the copyright.
Let's break this down., A master recording contains several elements: First, it contains the musical composition and/or written script. Second, it contains the performance of the entertainer and any musicians or others who participate in the performance. Third, the tape, itself (master recording) is a third level of potential copyright ownership.
Ordinarily, record companies enter into agreements that define ownership of copyright (publishing rights, performance rights, and recording rights). The record company must obtain a license to use the musical composition from the song-writers. Without a license from the song-writers, they could claim entitlement to share in the copyright in the recording and/or any proceeds from it.
Second, record companies enter into artist agreements with the entertainers and musicians who perform on a recording. These agreements assign performance rights to the record company. Without any agreement with the artist, the entertainer and other performers may claim ownership of copyright in their performances as recorded on the tape,
Third, the producer and/or whoever actually made the recording owns a separate copyright in the master-recording, itself.
Since this recording was made 40 years ago, it is possible that some of the copyrights applicable to elements of the recording have expired. Also, if someone found this recording 40 years later, it might he possible to argue that the copyright owners previously abandoned their claims regarding the master tape. (That seems unlikely but it is worth exploring).
Note also, that if the recording was made prior to 1976 and was not registered with the copyright office, copyright may have been lost due to failure to register. However, if the recording was made after 1976, registration was not required (although registration remains necessary prior to bringing suit for infringement).
Also, if someone finds this tape in the "trash" (or in someone's home or attic), and takes steps to improve its sound quality and preserve its content, the improved "master recording" may deserve a separate and new copyright, But permission would still be needed from the other owners of copyrights in the work. Chances are, this master tape cannot be legally released for profit without licenses from several different persons or companies.
Note also that in the 1970's, most record companies still hired musicians, performers, bands, studio producers and others on a "work for hire basis", requiring that they assign all copyrights to the companies (this was not true for songwriters, who have separate publishing rights that are treated as especially valuable under copyright law and could not be permanently assigned on a work for hire basis). Thus, it is quite possible that the record company that employed the studio producer and entertainer owns the copyright. One thing is sure---no one could safely release a "bootleg" version of this tape without retaining experienced legal counsel to track down the copyright owners and obtain licenses of any existing copyrights.
I am not your lawyer and this is not intended to be legal advice on which you rely. My answer is merely intended to assist you in understanding some of the issues that you face so that you can make an intelligent choice when you hire legal counsel.
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