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Even Century Old Records Had Restrictive Licensing

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the old-dog-same-tricks dept.

Music 277

natch writes "While rummaging through some old records at an antique store I found some turn-of-the-century Victor Record Company pressings. The label on the back laid out the terms of use, something similar to an EULA. In today's modern world of RIAA lawsuits and DRM, it's interesting to note that similar tactics have been in use by record companies for over a century, restricting your right to use what you purchased. The label clearly states that unless the record was sold for at least one dollar, there is no license to use it."

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277 comments

The problem is our present-day exceptionalism. (5, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553001)

While the Victrola "EULA" described in TFA is a new one to me, damaging intellectual property disputes are definitely not something that's unique to our time.

Every time an article on IT patents comes up, I immediately think about the Selden [wikipedia.org] Patent, and the effect that dispute had on the development of automobiles at the dawn of the 20th century. It's difficult to say how things would have turned out if the patent hadn't been granted, or if it had been invalidated earlier, but it certainly shaped the landscape dramatically. (Whether for the better or worse is arguable -- probably its biggest effect was the boost it gave one Henry Ford, who challenged the Selden-patent-backed oligopoly [wikipedia.org] .)

But you can see many of the same legal arguments and constructs that occur in modern patent wars in the Selden conflict: the cartel of companies who had the patent tried to use it aggressively to stifle competition, first attacking other producers, then trying to end-run them and threatening customers directly to keep them away from competing products. In response, upstart producers (like Ford) who didn't license the patent agreed to indemnify their customers against the cartel's possible suits. It ground forward, both in the courts and in the public eye, for years, and eventually concluded itself when Ford won a around in court and the Selden/ALAM side couldn't afford to continue the fight. The actual utility of the patent to the public was basically never considered.

What is most interesting out of all this is that we really haven't changed anything. It's almost universally agreed that the Selden Patent was a debacle -- regardless of one's feelings of George Selden, his patent did nothing to encourage the development of automobiles, and it almost certainly resulted in a lot of wasted effort on the part of all concerned -- yet virtually no changes were made to the patent system in response. And now we have similar situations repeating themselves, over and over.

But I suppose that shouldn't really come as any surprise. It's been almost 155 years since Dickens published "Bleak House," and, legal details excepted, you could probably set that story -- its bankruptcy-inducing proceedings, with their grinding slowness and vulturous lawyers -- just as easily in 2007 Delaware as you could in 1842 England.

Re:The problem is our present-day exceptionalism. (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553193)

I find it odd that with all the talk of patents on Slashdot that I had never heard of this case before. We all complain about the RIAA/MPAA and others, but they are just doing the same thing that has been done by everybody else for ages. It's kind of funny when you look at a "lift-the-flap" book for 1 year olds, and they have some legal jargon on it saying how you can't photocopy or duplicate the product in whole or in part in any way. Even though photocopying books for personal use is legal, and photocopying is a somewhat useless duplication method for a book which is "lift-the-flap".

Re:The problem is our present-day exceptionalism. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553203)

While the Victrola "EULA" described in TFA is a new one to me, damaging intellectual property disputes are definitely not something that's unique to our time.
---
And it's even allowed to play in Region 1 only, according to its label.

Re:The problem is our present-day exceptionalism. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553251)

It's been almost 155 years since Dickens published "Bleak House," and, legal details excepted, you could probably set that story -- its bankruptcy-inducing proceedings, with their grinding slowness and vulturous lawyers -- just as easily in 2007 Delaware as you could in 1842 England.

England here. Just thought I'd point out that you could probably set that story just as easily in 2007 England as you could in 2007 Delaware. Except there'd be CCTV cameras outside the courts, inside the courts, on the streets, on the judges head, embedded in all toilet pans, etc.

Re:The problem is our present-day exceptionalism. (4, Interesting)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553595)

While the Victrola "EULA" described in TFA is a new one to me, damaging intellectual property disputes are definitely not something that's unique to our time.
What's even worse, is the EULA on an actual victrola. Yes.. I do actually own an RCA victrola and the EULA on it says that you can only play RCA records on it. Now at least our current licenses aren't that bad ( Otherwise, you'd need a different CD player for each different record company ?).

Lockout chip business model (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554241)

Yes.. I do actually own an RCA victrola and the EULA on it says that you can only play RCA records on it. Now at least our current licenses aren't that bad ( Otherwise, you'd need a different CD player for each different record company ?)
Which of Nintendo's, Sony's, or Microsoft's video game consoles doesn't have terms like these attached to it?

Re:Lockout chip business model (1)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554457)

Which of Nintendo's, Sony's, or Microsoft's video game consoles doesn't have terms like these attached to it?
I was referring to music, not to video games, which are an entirely different thing. (Show me anything other than a Nintendo that can play a Nintendo game CD/DVD ?)

Re:The problem is our present-day exceptionalism. (4, Insightful)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554345)

I do actually own an RCA victrola and the EULA on it says that you can only play RCA records on it. Now at least our current licenses aren't that bad...

Yeah, it's not like some PC manufacturer is saying you can only run Windows on thier products in order to receive hardware warranty support... oh.. wait.

Hmmm ... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553041)

FTA

However, admitting I have an unlicensed copy of a record will certainly put me at risk of a lawsuit.
I'd be willing to bet a $1 that those patents are long expired by now. If not, I'll just send that $1 directly to the RIAA on your behalf.

Re:Hmmm ... (4, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553091)

Interestingly, the flip side of the 78 rpm vinyl was a recording by Snoop Doggy Dog's grandfather, "I Gots Yo Bling Bling, Now Ride Wit Me in Mah Model T. Uhuh Uhuh."

I think you're confused (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553167)

Patents and copyright are not the same thing. It's a generic rendition of Ave Maria, how much you want to bet it was a work for hire? That's 120 years, man. Even if not, it's 90 years after the death of the author. It's more than likely still under copyright.

Re:I think you're confused (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553467)

That would be the case if it were produced now, but not back in 1900. It's long out of copyright.

Re:I think you're confused (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553545)

I can't remember, but weren't all the copyright extensions retroactive. I thought this was the reason even a lot of the original Disney/Mickey Mouse stuff was still under copyright.

Re:I think you're confused (4, Informative)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553627)

Wikipedia on how long copyright lasts [wikipedia.org] . In short, yes, some were retroactive, but the cutoff date seems to be 1923. Anything copyrighted before then is public domain.

Re:I think you're confused (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553757)

Except for "happy birthday."
Even tho it was written in 1893, the copyright dates from 1935 for some weird reason and won't expire until 2030.

Re:I think you're confused (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553639)

The extensions aren't retroactive; you can't take something out of public domain once it's there. What they can do (and did) is prevent works from entering public domain. You're right about Mickey Mouse, but that's something like 1935; this record is from 1906 or so.

Re:I think you're confused (4, Informative)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553753)

Basically, everything released after Steamboat Willie is under copyright and will be forever. You can be certain that no matter how much it costs, Disney will never allow anything under their copyright to enter the public domain.

Re:I think you're confused (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553547)

I may be wrong, but I don't see a mention of a copyright anywhere on that label. They do mention all their patents, the name of the guy who holds (nowheld) them, and that "violation of any of these conditions will be considered as an infringement of our United States patents".

Re:I think you're confused (1)

zenyu (248067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553555)

mod parent down!

If he had read the article he would have seen that the record was patented not copyrighted. As a copyright notice was required until very recently to claim a US copyright this record was never copyrighted. Further, copyright terms were much shorter in your grandfather's day, and the copyright would have expired long ago even if they had applied for all the extensions available under law.

Re:I think you're confused (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554389)

Sigh. So, making crap up gets this 4 points for "insightful"? In fact in the USA, all (this includes phonographs) works published before 1923 are in the public domain. So it's in the public domain. And the term of expiration of copyrights here is death of the author plus either 50 or 70 years, but just assume 70 because that's probably going to be the case. I couldn't find any explanation as to why sometimes it's only supposed to be life of the author plus 50 years and we all know that certainly doesn't apply to any major corporation like Disney, who will definitely get life plus 70 years.

A hundred years... (1)

feedmetrolls (1108119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553051)

And the RIAA still hasn't been overthrown? We seriously need to get off our computers and do something if we want to give out grandchildren the music quality they deserve...

Re:A hundred years... (3, Funny)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553095)

And the RIAA still hasn't been overthrown? We seriously need to get off our computers and do something if we want to give out grandchildren the music quality they deserve...

What, and not be able to hit F5 constantly throughout the day? You must be new here.

Re:A hundred years... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554273)

What, and not be able to hit F5 constantly throughout the day? You must be new here. Okay, here's me thinking F5 would never possibly work in Firefox on Linux. But it does. I must be new here.

Who _deserves_ quality music?.. (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553147)

if we want to give out grandchildren the music quality they deserve...

Where is this sense of entitlement coming from? I deserve free (or low cost) entertainment. My grandchildren deserve music quality... WTF? Is there something in the Constitution, that I missed?

Re:Who _deserves_ quality music?.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553509)

Where is it coming from? It's right in the bargain that copyright represents. The creator of the work gets the exclusive rights for a period of time, protected by the law, and after a period of time the work falls into the public domain.

In other words, the sense of "entitlement" exists in the same sense as if I said "If you pay me first, I'll give you something later", or vice-versa. i.e., it's like a contract, and the public deserves to be paid their half after granting a monopoly for a reasonable period of time, in advance.

The way you're talking, it's as if you walked into a restaurant, ate a nice meal, and then act surprised at the request that you pay up. I suppose if you had to sign a contract to eat it might be more obvious, but the bargain does exist.

Re:Who _deserves_ quality music?.. (3, Insightful)

killercoder (874746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553535)

Ignoring the commercial aspects of music for a moment. Music, especially popular music, is a product of a culture. The descendants of that culture (our children, and children's children) have a right to experience the original culture that spawned them Music as a property is a relatively new concept. In old times, professional singers would adapt and extend the material they heard from their competititors - they would adapt it enhance it, and sell it. I totally agree that CD's or any other physical item of music is a item of property - something for which the music industry can sue for counterfeiting. I draw the line at making the sheer act of listening to music from an unauthorized source illegal. Intellectual property is an oxymoron.

Re:Who _deserves_ quality music?.. (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554453)

Everything is a product of culture - I live in the southwest of England, one of the richest parts of the world when it comes to history and historical places. I cant travel 5 miles in any direction from where I'm sitting now without hitting a place thats hundreds of years old, steeped in history.

There are stately homes, places that time practically forgot (within walking distance is the village of Lacock, within a 10 minute car ride is the city of Bath, both places where the vast majority of historical drama is filmed), stone circles, barrows, chalk horses cut in the side of hills, tithe barns, railways (the GWR Bristol to Paddington London line, including Box tunnel).

When am I getting full access to any of these places? When can I walk around whichever house in Lacock I want? When can I visit that tithe barn that is now someones home? When can I visit that stone circle thats in the middle of a farmers land? When can I see the inside of the Bath Roman Spas without having to pay extortionate prices? When can I get to see the architectural wonders that is the Royal Crescent?

Its all part of my cultural history, why should it be treated any differently?

I'm all for time based restrictions on copyright, but please leave the 'cultural argument' out of any discussion because its not a valid one when you start looking around you.

Re:Who _deserves_ quality music?.. (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553857)

Where is this sense of entitlement coming from? I deserve free (or low cost) entertainment. My grandchildren deserve music quality... WTF? Is there something in the Constitution, that I missed?
Do you deserve history? If you think society's history needs to be locked up and served out on a pay-per-view basis, then at least you would be consistent. Meanwhile, to address your last question, it's freedom of expression that guarantees the right to copy. Nothing completely new is ever created nowadays, every phrase, every sketch, every melody all use what has come before in varying degrees.

Re:Who _deserves_ quality music?.. (1)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553901)

There's a difference between "deserving" and "having a right to".
Even if he'd said they have a right to it, though, the US Constitution isn't the only source of rights, despite what so many Republicans would have you believe nowadays.

Spelling error: (1)

feedmetrolls (1108119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553153)

That should be 'our,' not 'out.' Please forgive me just this once...

Re:A hundred years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553289)

Speak for yourself. I got off on my computer last night.

Common (4, Insightful)

scrotch (605605) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553077)

It was probably necessary to make a clear distinction at that early point that when you bought the record, you did not buy the copyright to the recorded sound.

Licenses of some type are pretty common to make clear the fact that you did not buy all rights to something. Your apartment lease declares that just because you paid some money, you don't own the building and you can't tear down walls. With a relatively new technology, it was more important to specify what you had actually purchased. And since it was the seller making those declarations, it was naturally as limited as capitalism would allow.

Re:Common (1, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553157)

Your apartment lease declares that just because you paid some money, you don't own the building and you can't tear down walls.
Crap and a half! This explain why I keep getting evicted. Where was this post last month when I needed it? ;-)

Re:Common (2, Funny)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553325)

You should never just blindly click the "I Agree" button on your lease! You should at least scroll through it first.

Proper way to click an EULA (2, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554025)

No way! Everybody knows you're supposed to get your cat to click on those.

Getting the Friskies treats out from between the keys is a bitch, though.

Re:Common (2, Funny)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554441)

I can't even click, I have to press F8 to accept it. It's also printed in white on blue, which get's on my eyes. Moreover, it also needs a driver disk for the storage closet. The walls in the place can be placed arbitrarily though, but I need to move all the stuff out of a room before partitioning, and I can only use two kinds of floor material (one of which sucks), which is a PITA. Finally, after getting through the thing I can start living in my home, but then I start getting these notes in the mail that say my place used to be owned by pirates. WTF?

Bah! (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553277)

I believe some disambiguation/declarations of rights is okay.

But there is NO moderating force in capitalism, much less in our current political climate.

Monopolies are the "natural" mature state of markets because some asshat sees the opportunity in doing things like, owning the entire supply of some good or coordinating prices and supply with their nearest competitors, or legislating barriers to market.

I could go on, but the point is you mistakenly follow the politically expedient rationale that capitalism/privatization is some kind of silver bullet that solves all problems. It doesn't and it hasn't.

Re:Bah! (2, Insightful)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553973)

"Monopolies are the "natural" mature state of markets because some asshat sees the opportunity in doing things like, owning the entire supply of some good or coordinating prices and supply with their nearest competitors, or legislating barriers to market."

While I agree that markets want to naturally move toward monopolies, the Internet and technology have derailed the RIAA's attempts.

Due to cheaper recording and production costs the RIAA doesn't have nearly the monopoly they did 20 years ago. There are many more non-RIAA members producing high quality music and using the Internet to distribute what they produce at a reasonable cost. With the cost of hardware dropping and the quality of home studio software rising, more and more acts have taken to doing everything themselves, or finding cheap local alternatives to RIAA members. It is only the no talent "Britney's", "Idol's" and "Boy bands" that need the RIAA to make them successful.

If anything the actions of the RIAA resemble a monopoly that is desperately trying anything it can to hold on to it's once powerful position.
 

Re:Common (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554161)

It was probably necessary to make a clear distinction at that early point that when you bought the record, you did not buy the copyright to the recorded sound.

You weren't buying the right to public performance either. Columbia Records has been around since 1888. The coin-the-slot music machine, the carousel band organ, were everywhere in the 1890s.

Even worse on fair use (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553081)

The license restricts ripping to wax cylinders or whistling of said tune.

"Turn of the Century" - does he mean 1899 to 1900? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553099)

I don't think that phrase means what you think it does.

Re:"Turn of the Century" - does he mean 1899 to 19 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553209)

I see your point.

But if you put a hat on, it may hide it.

Re:"Turn of the Century" - does he mean 1899 to 19 (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553567)

Don't you mean 1900 to 1901? Remember the hype? Y2K was not the new century. New centuries always start on the xx01 year.

You stand corrected. No need to thank me.

EULA unenforceable under First Sale Doctrine (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553109)

Re:EULA unenforceable under First Sale Doctrine (1)

Natchswing (588534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553185)

What if the record predates First Sale Doctrine (which this one does)? It appears that a similar restriction on books was the first case involving this doctrine.

Re:EULA unenforceable under First Sale Doctrine (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553515)

I don't reckon it would matter at this point anyway, as even if it were covered by the copyright extension act the copyright on the music has long since expired. Which means, rip those things to MP3 and post 'em on the Internet!

That's why we got first sale doctrine (5, Informative)

thisissilly (676875) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553129)

It wasn't until in 1908 that Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus [wikipedia.org] established the first sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] , which ruled that copyright does not give the holder the right to control re-sale of items once sold.

Re:That's why we got first sale doctrine (2, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553903)

It wasn't until in 1908 that Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus established the first sale doctrine, which ruled that copyright does not give the holder the right to control re-sale of items once sold.

For how much longer I wonder? I think the *AAs are trying very hard to get that taken away from us -- I'm sure someone somewhere is preparing a brief to a judge which says that every time someone buys a second hand CD, they lose money and god kills a kitten.

Cheers

don't care, it won't play on my Edison anyway (4, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553139)

darn all these pesky different formats!

Used music sales? (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553149)

With the license prohibiting use of the record if it was sold for less than original purchase price, I wonder if, even a hundred years ago, RCA was trying to shut down the resellers of used music. Anyone else remember the industry's outcry against used CD stores?

Re:Used music sales? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554413)

I wonder if, even a hundred years ago, RCA was trying to shut down the resellers of used music.

There were no resellers of used music. The first commercial acoustic recordings were good for about 100 plays. The cylinders were wax. The needles and tone arms steel.

Books too (3, Informative)

underwhelm (53409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553159)

That happened on the inside cover of books too, before the days of 17 U.S.C. 109 [cornell.edu] (AKA First Sale).

Apple and the AIDS connection (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553163)

Mac users are very stupid. They suck on every dick they see. They have rotten teeth and their lifestyle makes them stink very bad. Worst of all, they hate freedom. Truly disgusting.

Apple for subhumans.

Go Linux!!!

EULA (3, Informative)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553177)

The reason that Hollywood was set up in southern California is that Edison was unable to pursue his royalty and usage claims against movies there. Of course, with eventual financial success came the inevitable incentive to get together to sock it to the customer.

Huh? (2, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553431)

The reason that Hollywood was set up in southern California is that Edison was unable to pursue his royalty and usage claims against movies there.

That's a new one. The history I've always heard basically says that the movie industry started there because of the sunshine. Don't forget, back then, hey didn't have these lights they have now. Of course, here's Wiki for more:

After hearing about this wonderful place, in 1913 many movie-makers headed west. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Huh? (1)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553697)

My comment is from memory of a presentation that I attended at the Eastman museum (I worked at Kodak Research then), better than 30 years ago, but I believe that it is accurate. Of course, the public reason given would be much different. It is typical the public justifications and explanations may bear little resemblence to actual driving issues. I am sure that some neutral historians of the industry cover the issue accurately. I have never pursued it.

Re:Huh? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554047)

I heard it was because Jews weren't welcome in the New Jersey film industry.

SeX with 4 homo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553179)

Homo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553183)

He went antiquing.

Expired patents (1)

mapinguari (110030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553261)

...will be treated as infringers of said patents...

Is it possible to infringe on an expired patent?

Re:Expired patents (1)

Venner (59051) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554275)

You can't infringe an expired patent. However, under US contract law (which covers licenses in general), you can agree to just about anything. The government and courts have swayed back and forth over the years about where the line is drawn as to what you can't agree to, for public safety, health, welfare, etc. Obviously, the RIAA, et al, say that buying and/or using the recording in this case means that you implicitly agree to their license.

There have been a number of patent cases that have apparently contradictory results. While the courts consider it patent abuse/misuse to "extend a monopoly beyond the term of the patent," they aren't always clear as to what that means. I read an opinion by Judge Posner in which he felt that royalty payments beyond the term of the patent, for example, only affected when you would receive your money and had basically nothing to do with extending the monopoly. (E.g., I have a patent due to expire in 17 years. I offer you the use of my patent if you pay me royalties for the next 100 years. Judge Posner's position is that that is okay. You wouldn't have agreed to the contract if you didn't think you'd profit from it, your royalties would be discounted by knowing the patent would expire, or whatever. Chicago school of law & economics at work.) I disagree with Posner.

I call fake! (2, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553317)

That so-called license agreement on the back looks too similar to modern day EULA. Granted, modern copyright agreements have had their roots in older laws, but what the article presents seems like too much of a joke.

Re:I call fake! (1)

butlerdi (705651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554151)

Additionally 1 dollar seems excessive. Licorice Pizza in 1970's California was selling new albums for a dollar, actually .99.

Re:I call fake! (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554319)

At least back then you got an entire album at a buck. Nowadays, just 1 song.

couple of error (2, Informative)

SYSS Mouse (694626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553395)

TFA says:

The label doesn't provide any information on what I'm supposed to do with an unlicensed copy of Ave Maria. I could contact the Victor Record Company, but they sold assets to RCA, which was acquired by General Electric, which was sold to BMG, which merged with Sony. So do I contact Sony and inform them I have an unlicensed copy of Ave Maria? I'm sure they'd tell me to delete the mp3 off of my hard drive.

However, admitting I have an unlicensed copy of a record will certainly put me at risk of a lawsuit. Then I'd have to find an "expert" to testify in court that the unlicensed track is indeed embdded into this molded piece of plastic, and not stored on a hard drive. They'd probably drag the case through court, scour my hard drive, then drop the lawsuit and sue the antique junk store that sold me the record. "

This is wrong. In fact, you can copy all you want since the copyright for the song has expired. The song is now in public domain and RIAA can;t sue a person for copying a song which is in public domain.

Re:couple of error (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554101)

This is wrong. In fact, you can copy all you want since the copyright for the song has expired. The song is now in public domain and RIAA can;t sue a person for copying a song which is in public domain.

Yeah, that is until they get their new laws which say if they release a copyrighted instance of work in the public domain, that particular recording is now copyrighted all over again.

That, and the whole extension of copyright to be almost perptetual, there's increasingly no chance of works lapsing into the public domain once those companies have it in their hands or ever published it at all.

Or, did you think the copyright on Steam Boat Mickey had expired by now as well? We seem to be losing this fight.

Cheers

Re:couple of error (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554113)

What??? We'll contact our Congress Critter and have the copyright extended retroactively. RIAA.

Re:couple of error (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554243)

More importantly, they can't sue over a recording that is in the public domain. Someone can still record a new performance of the same song and it would be copyrighted again with no expiration date just like everything else published today.

Re:couple of error (1)

zarkill (1100367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554281)

Oh sweet, my first IANAL post!

Anyway, if I understand correctly, the SONG itself may be public domain, which means you don't have to pay anyone to perform it or record it, but the particular recording on this record could still be copyrighted. That may or may not be the case in this instance (since the recording is so old), but if so, you still wouldn't be allowed to copy the recording, even if the song itself was in the public domain. For copyright purposes, the two are separate works.

My great-grandfather was sued for this! (5, Funny)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553403)

Family history records him purchasing a batch of records from VinylTorrent for a nickel each and subsequently being sued under the aforementioned EULA. He had to pay two horses, a mule, and several chickens if I'm not mistaken.

Some angry fists were shaken that day, I'll bet.

Inflation! (1)

Markvs (17298) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553417)

I hope you paid at least $23.36 for that record, else you're in violation!
(That's actually not too bad for 107 years or so...)

Re:Inflation! (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554353)

Actually, judging from the July 1906 date on the record, any copyright has long since expired. I think he's ok on this one.

No advertisements! (0, Offtopic)

Natchswing (588534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553423)

Look! Not a single paid advertisement on the site. The entire article even fits on one page.

Re:No advertisements! (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553803)

Too bad they hold the patent on OnePageView(tm) :-/

I've seen exactly that kind of license (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553455)

on the inside covers of books from that period (ca. 1905).

The claims made by the license are that (1) The content of the book is being licensed to the original purchaser and (2) the terms of the license do not allow the purchaser to resell the book.

This sort of thing went out with the recognition of the First Sale Doctrine in 1908. Software appears to be an exception to the First Sale doctrine -- at least depending on which US circuit court district you're in.

Interesting? How about OBVIOUS? (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553477)

"it's interesting to note that similar tactics have been in use by record companies for over a century."

A revelation no doubt common in people who think the media are biased cesspools of sensationalist crap designed entirely to manipulate the population out of quasi-fascist capitalist greed...until they pick up an 1890's edition of the San Francisco Examiner and realize contrary to their previous perception, things have actually markedly improved.

Patent, not copyright (3, Interesting)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553493)


IANAL, but that reads like a license to the patents, not to copyright of the recording. Those patents would have long since expired.

There was no copyright protection of audio recordings until 1909.

But since you mention the RIAA, there was an organization of a very similar kind of company called the "Motion Picture Patents Company" in the early 20th century that held all rights to movie recording and projection. They sought to keep audience expectations low, marketing uniformly low-quality and cheap movies. They sued anyone who got near. The MPPC's strategy ended up starving itself to death in 1918, as independent movie makers figured ways to make creative and entertaining movies, while getting around the patents. (Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs)

It's just smoke and mirrors. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553503)

Just like many modern EULAs that text is a bunch of unenforceable nonsense. At the time that record was pressed there was no copyright protectin for recorded sound... so they made a hand-waving argument that somehow a couple of patents on the phonograph hardware protected their recording. It's a load of rubbish and would never have been enforceable, but it probably caused enough pause to be worth the cost of printing the warning.

Oh really? (2, Funny)

jzuska (65827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553519)

So did you rip them?
Torrent link plz?

A sticky subject, to be sure... (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553525)

Patents issued to Emilie Jelly Donut?

JFK's source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553699)

Emile: Ich bin ein Berliner

Old magazines (2, Interesting)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553713)

My father has a collection of old magazines dating back a hundred years or so. (I haven't looked at them since I was a kid, so I can't tell you which ones.) I distinctly remember a coupon for toothpaste for some brand that was still in existence. The coupon had no expiration date or any of the legal jargon printed on the back of one now. As a kid, I wondered if it was still valid.

(As an adult, I can say with some confidence that the company would honor the coupon, if only for the PR value of having someone redeem 75 year old coupon!)

Turn of the century? (3, Informative)

LinuxInDallas (73952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553719)

Well that was only 7 years ago. What were you expecting?

RCA was a lot like ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553721)

Here's a EULA from the back of a circa 1930 radio.

This looks like an early EULA (End User License Agreement)

It's the text from the bottom of the radio above.

RCA Radiola 33

model AR-784-A

NOTICE

In connection with devices it sells, Radio Corporation of America has rights under patents having claims (A) on the devices themselves and (B) on combinations of the devices with other devices or elements, as for example, in various circuits and hook-ups. The sale of this device carries a license under the patent claims of (A). but only for, (1) talking machine uses, (2) radio amateur uses, (3) radio experimental uses and (4) radio broadcast reception: and only where no business features are involved. The sale does not carry a license under patent claims of (B) except only (1) for legitimate renewals and repairs in apparatus and systems already licensed for use under such patent claims on combinations, (2) for assembling by amateurs and experimenters, and not by others, with other licensed parts or devices or with parts or devices made by themselves, but only for their own amatuer and experimental radio uses where no business features are involved, and not for sale to or for use by others and ???or use with licensed talking machines and licensed radio broadcast receiving devices, and only where no business features are involved.

The RCA Radiola line appears to have been manufactured between 1921 and 1930.

http://www.conestogac.on.ca/eet/museum/museum.html [conestogac.on.ca]

Of course, RCA was quick to assert its rights while ripping off the IP of others; Edwin Howard Armstrong in particular. Armstrong invented and patented several important (FM and Super Hetrodyne for instance). RCA literally lawyered him to death. Once he was dead, RCA gave his widow what they had offered him about thirty years previously. Plus ca change ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Armstrong [wikipedia.org]

1909 Copyright Act (5, Interesting)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553735)

I wrote my senior thesis in College on a related topic - in part, the development of the 1909 copyright law, which had a big impact on records, phonographs, etc. Prior to 1909, records, piano rolls, and so on actually had no copyright at all. Piano roll and talking machine companies (which is what record companies were known as back then) actually fought to keep records and rolls uncopyright-able as a way of preventing them from having to pay royalties to composers. The idea that composers - the writers of music - would get royalties from records or piano rolls (in addition to sheet music, which is what they traditionally got royalties for) was established in law in 1909 too.

This is interesting in the modern copyright debate, because it was the start of the notion that the producers of derivative works (for example, a recording of a composition) owe royalties to the producer of the original work (sheet music). Furthermore, the 1909 law determined that records and so on would be treated nearly exactly like books (minus the statutory license), in terms of duration, etc. There was an opportunity to set up a totally different copyright system for audio works (which are fundamentally different from the written word), but rather than innovate, Congress established the system that is so abused today.

The 1909 (and 1891, which had to do with recognizing international copyright) copyright laws had very interesting impacts on the development of copyright. Did you know that in 1906, the Aeolian Company (the major producers of player pianos and rolls) was working to set up what was essentially a statutory monopoly based on the exclusive property of traditional copyrights? To put it simply (and oversimplify), they attempted to create a situation very similiar to what the RIAA has been enjoying in American for a while now - exclusive control over most/all popular (money-making) music. It's because of their attempted monopoly that statutory licensing was developed in America.

So in relation to the main topic - if those old records were made before 1909, they actually had no copyright at all - you'll see no copyright notice on it anywhere. However, these kinds of things were thought to be covered in some degree by patents, and the 1909 law also established where patent-rights ended and copyrights began in regards to records.

disclaimer - I studied the political, not legal, aspects of copyright development.

In Soviet America: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553743)

Restrictive licensing had even century old records.

Another slow news day?

P.S. To Slashdotteurs: Please don't respond with "if you don't like it leave". This is the United Gulags of America. I know I have
no rights because of this despot [whitehouse.org] .

Very difficult to listen to this record. (2, Interesting)

Distan (122159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553779)

The EULA only allows "producing sound directly from the record". I don't think that would allow playing it on a record player, as the player is a device that indirectly produces sound.

You could probably wave the record in the air and listen to the wind whistling through the hole.

Re:Very difficult to listen to this record. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553975)

Listen to the sound it makes when you smack it upside an RIAA exec's head. Good for hours of enjoyment!

Re:Very difficult to listen to this record. (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554189)

Doesn't matter what you do, it is always indirect. That is the nature of sound.

Re:Very difficult to listen to this record. (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554363)

The old phonographs used to play these would have made the sound directly using a needle that scraped over the grooves and made a sound. This was then picked up and directed by a large horn.

It wasn't until some decades later that modern record players (which ran at about half the rotational speed, and used vinyl for the records) were introduced, requiring some additional form of amplification. You can listen to a modern record directly if you put your ear close to the stylus, but it's very quiet. The stylus is typically connected to a piezoelectric crystal, which emits electricity as the crystal is compressed. This gives an electrical signal which is then amplified using valves or (if you are particularly modern) transistors, giving indirect reproduction.

special pricing (2, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553805)

this is why some stores say "prices too low to print/etc!" in their ads. There is some deal where if you put "acme label" then you have to charge their minimum price. Just like there are clever ways around this, I'm sure that acme label really enjoys the sales no matter how they are generated. Why can't the RIAA just enjoy sales as well? Oh yeah, because no one buys an entire record to listen to one track? How is that piracy's fault?

Re:special pricing (2, Interesting)

shark72 (702619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554297)

"This is why some stores say "prices too low to print/etc!" in their ads. There is some deal where if you put "acme label" then you have to charge their minimum price. Just like there are clever ways around this, I'm sure that acme label really enjoys the sales no matter how they are generated."

Yup; it's called a MAP program. When Apple and other companies we love do it, it's fine. When Universal does it with Tower Records, it's price fixing. Universal got nailed for this after Best Buy and Wal-Mart complained to the government. A win for Best Buy and Wal-Mart; a loss for Universal and Tower (who have since gone out of business, unable to compete with Best Buy and Wal-Mart). Whether it's a win for Slashdotters depends on whether you appreciated having Tower and other relatively cool alternatives to buying your music at Best Buy or Wal-Mart.

"Why can't the RIAA just enjoy sales as well? Oh yeah, because no one buys an entire record to listen to one track? How is that piracy's fault?"

That was the prevailing argument five years ago.

Then it was "online music selection sucks and is too expensive! I'll keep pirating, thank you.". And then online music stores got cheaper and better.

Then it was "online music stores have DRM! I'll keep pirating, thank you." And then emusic showed up, and EMI dropped their DRM.

Then it was "these DRM-free tracks from the iTunes Store have my email address embedded. I'll keep pirating, thank you."

You know how many P2P enthusiasts claim that if only the music industry would listen to them, they would stop pirating? Many people claiming this are simply full of shit; they'll keep pirating and keep coming up with a new moral justification to do so. Disposable income is the football, the record companies are Charlie Brown, and the pirates are Lucy.

Among the honorable people in my book are the pirates who simply acknowledge that they have no interest in purchasing music, and that they pirate to save money. No need to blame anybody else for having the basic and fundamental desire to save money. If the rights of others don't happen to matter to you, you're cerrtainly not alone.

You don't need a license to use a record. (1)

Filter (6719) | more than 7 years ago | (#19553817)

You would only need a license for public performance or copying, not for listening to it.

Lies, damned lies, statistics, and the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19553925)

After all it was just pushed into their home via radio waves, and they have the right to record this song for their own personal use, so why can't they copy it from someone else? It appears that a significant portion of the population doesn't see anything wrong with copying music, and I have a feeling that we're just around the corner from a paradigm shift in the way copyrights are handled.

The paradigm has already shifted! ...except it shifted the other way. Back in the seventies they had cassette tapes and eight track tapes. Friends would bring albums over and we would tape them. Nobody thought twice about it, and although never illegal, the practice was completely legalized with the Audio Home Recording Act of 1978.

The paradigm shift was the record companies purchase of the US Government and the outlawing of this very same practice when done digitally.

Curiously, some of my best sounding CDs are the ones I sampled from vinyl. If I want to show off my twelve inch three way JBLs, or my six speaker car stereo, I play a CD I made from vinyl. Also interesting is the fact that I have never ever heard a CD I would confuse with a live recording, but when played on a turntable you can close your eyes and Van Halen I sounds like the band is in the living room. Neither the store-bought CD nor the sampled from vinyl CD will fool you like that. Also interesting is that I bought Led Zepplin's presence on CD (before I learned the truth), thinking that the vinyl sounded so good it would be killer. Sadly, my sampled from vinyl version sounds better than the one I bought at the store!

The labels have always lied on their covers, with things like "duplication of this phonorecord is strictly forbidden" when in fact the 1978 AHRA had specifically put the lie to it, or the "this CD was originally recorded in analog media. Although every effort was made to preserve the original sound, digital recording's superior nature" bla bla bla. The fact is that a CD of a work that was originally recorded analog will have the worst of both worlds; each has strengths and weaknesses. E.g. You cannot reproduce an undistorted 15khz wave at a CD's 44k sampling rate, but digital introduces no new noise. Digital's superior dynamic range is often cited as an improvement over analog, but though that's true it's seldom if ever used. In fact, many reissued CDs of works originally on vinyl have inferior dynamics, an artifact of the remastering process (bad engineers).

RIAA labels lie like rugs. In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead [wikipedia.org] and the sun rises in the east.

-mcgrew

Inflation? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554051)

One dollar a century ago, mut have been some serious coin.

I don't think this one's about user rights... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554157)

but more like price fixing. There's been a lot of that [google.com] in the industry recently, and even more outside [google.com] the technology field.

What calls my particular attention is this little piece of info: "Attorney General Investigates Music price fixing." [slashdot.org] Hmmmm...

collector of 78s here... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554223)

I collect 78s, so I know of this 'EULA'
When records became double-sided, this was moved to the sleeve, and it was shortened in later years.
What remained on labels for a long time was 'Not licensed for radio braodcast'

What probably happened is the reason this format didn't stay on is because of the wide distribution of records. In 1906, discs were JUST starting to become popular. The record industry probably decided they didn't need it anymore. These records were ruined after a handful of plays on the players back then, anyway. Plus, 78s are very breakable, like a dinner plate. It wasn't oncommon for records to be bought multiple times by the same person due to breakage, wear, etc.

sale to PUBLIC (3, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554397)

The EULA actually says that there is no license if the record is sold to the public for less than $1. I think that means that the restriction applies only to the first retail sale. Subsequent purchases are not restricted - buying the record used for 50 cents is perfectly alright.

Out of Copyright (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19554401)

I expect that this recording is out of copyright now, no thanks to Sonny Bono, who left an ugly legacy with his copyright extension act.

Attempt to require a license is nonsensical anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19554415)

Under current law no license is needed to play an analog recording. Playing an analog record on typical analog equipment doesn't create any tangible copies (not even a RAM copy). Ephemeral mechanical and air bound vibrations are not copies. Playing the record even without a license would not be copyright infringement.

Instead what's really happening here is a a cartel trying to fix prices and putting evidence of their illegal activity in writing. Not sure if this analysis fits the law at the time the record were released.

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