Congress Needs to Fix “Orphan Works” Gap in Copyright Law

I recently blogged at the Examiner on the frustrating saga of the Savory Collection, a collection of rare jazz recordings from the late 1930s and early 40s which are now in copyright limbo. The collection was the subject of an excellent in-depth article in the May issue of The American Bar Association Journal.

William Savory was an audio engineer who developed an innovative way of recording live performances in the 1930s. He went to nightclubs and captured the great artists of the Swing Age improvising and experimenting with the classics they would later become known for. Savory kept the recordings to himself while he was alive; but after his death, his son sold the whole lot to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to hear the songs anytime soon. The recordings are considered “orphan works”—in other words,  their copyright owners are unknown. The National Jazz Museum has said they’d like to share the collection online for the public to enjoy; but they can’t until Congress passes legislation to facilitate the publication of orphan works. For the time being, the only way anyone will hear William Savory’s recordings is by making an appointment at the museum.

Read my whole post here.