Ownership of historic speeches
- November 28, 2006 @ 11:25amoldmediamonger says:Does anyone know if recordings of historic speeches recorded on discs or cylinders are "owned" or copyrighted by anyone? And if so, how would you go about finding out who owns rights to such things? I'm referring to recorded speeches of presidential candidates, explorers, etc. dating back before 1925.
- November 29, 2006 @ 7:41amwilliamsonl says:Anything before 1923 is public domain. 1923-1925 would depend on whether it was published with a symbol or whether the copyright was renewed. See the chart linked from the homepage here.
- November 30, 2006 @ 8:51amGClement says:Expanding on LWilliamson's excellent response, I wanted to address your question regarding how to determine who owns the rights to speeches. First of all, not all speeches are protected by copyright, even speeches made after 1923. According to Nolo's excellent book 'Getting Permission' (see full reference at end of posting), copyright law protects a speech only if it is fixed in a tangible medium and if the writing or recording was done with the speechwriter's permission. Assuming both those conditions are met, the rights holder could be the speechwriter, the speaker, a ghostwriter for the speaker, or the employer of any of the above. An excellent, detailed discussion of copyright and speeches can be found in the Nolo book, Chapter 2, Section 11. The book is available in many libraries either as a printed volume, or as an electronic volume available through the NetLibrary commercial database. Google Book search includes a small sample of this book in its free service, but the relevant section on speeches does not seem to be available through Google.
Stim, Richard, 'Getting Permission: How to License and Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off'. Nolo, 2001.
- December 1, 2006 @ 10:04amksmith says:When you look at the chart LWilliamson points out, one issue to keep in mind is whether or not the speech has been published. Neither delivery of the speech in public nor fixation in a recording is sufficient to constitute publication. In a famous case, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was held to be unpublished even though it was delivered before hundreds of thousands of people, recorded, broadcast, and distributed in print to reporters. Under the 1909 Act, this kind of finding of "limited publication" was sometimes used by courts to prevent loss of copyright due to publication without notice, as in the MLK, Jr. case. For your purposes, whether the speeches are published or not will determine the term of protection they get; some unpublished speeches created after 1923 will not still be protected if the author died before 1936 while some speeches created before 1923 could still be protected if they were not published until after 1977. Be careful that you look at the appropriate part of the chart.
- January 26, 2007 @ 5:22pmoldmediamonger says:Thanks for all the excellent responses. All speeches in question are pre-1929 so from what I'm gathering it's highly unlikely any of them are "owned" by anyone. Thanks again!
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