Mudcat Café message #1077150 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65401   Message #1077150
Posted By: SDShad
20-Dec-03 - 10:59 PM
Thread Name: Questions Re: the Lomaxes and Copyright
Subject: Questions Re: the Lomaxes and Copyright
It's me! (*who the hell is he?*) Back from a long absence. Busy, busy, grad school, work, busy, busy, and, uhm, way too much time spent on the Firefly boards. Haven't even been gigging much lately. A big howdy to all the friends I have here whom I haven't, to my own fault, seen in a coon's age.

Anyway, my bride, the lovely Hypatia, whom some may remember, is finishing up a paper for grad school that is for her Managing Distance Education class that really is also research specific to an NSF grant she has received to develop distance education materials for teaching violin. The paper is, in particular, about copyright issues involved in same, specifically as regards folk songs and folk tunes. The project uses many techiniques and media, including individual mentoring and 3D animation. The project is not just using folk music to make copyright issues simpler (which isn't always the case), but also because her exploration of current research in learning theory is bearing out that apparently children should be introduced to music education through folk music first, because it is considered the natural idiomatic music of any culture, and thus the learning is more natural.

So in other words, all of her classical music training was the wrong way to begin. The time she spent up in the Black Hills in her Aunt Susie's parlor was probably much more fruitful. :-)

Her two questions, to which she has searched for, but hasn't yet found, an answer, have to do with the Lomaxes and the way they copyrighted many of the songs they collected.

1. Since Alan and John were both curators for the Library of Congress when they did their collecting, how were they as federal employees able to copyright their work instead of any copyright belonging to the United States, and thus being essentially in the public domain? Has the Lomaxes' copyright on any of these songs ever been challenged on this basis?

2. U.S. Code on copyright states:

"The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the
material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the
preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive
right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent
of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or
subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material."

So, since the Lomaxes, by this code, should only have been able to copyright the *derivative work*, i.e. the recordings they made and not necessarily the tunes, words, or arrangements the musicians used in those recordings, has the Lomaxes' copyright on any of these songs ever been challenged on *this* basis?

Consider these questions in the light that copyright is only a registration service; it doesn't grant the copyright holder ownership of the work, but simply registers a claim *of* ownership.

Thanks much from both Hypatia and me on any light the community can shed on these issues.

SD "Prodigal" Shad