Rock legends sue over online concert streams | CNET News.com

Rock legends sue over online concert streams | CNET News.com

A few Deadhead friends recommended over the past month that I check out a streaming concert site called “Wolfgang’s Vault.” It streams recordings of old live concerts from the Fillmore and other San Francisco venues that were collected by the late rock impresario, Bill Graham. Alas:

“Some of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest names have teamed up to sue the owner of a Web site that specializes in streaming rare concert recordings.

Wolfgang’s Vault offers thousands of recordings of rare audio and video music performances collected over 30 years by Bill Graham, a famous concert promoter who died in 1991.

On Monday, major rock names including Grateful Dead Productions, Carlos Santana and members of Led Zeppelin and The Doors, sued the current owner, claiming it was illegally offering recordings to stimulate sales of other products.”

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Rock legends sue over online concert streams | CNET News.com”

  1. When they launched, they’d said that they had copyright from the initial contracts with the artists. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

    The recordings are incredible, well recorded and each a bit of rock history. It’s surprising they didn’t sell the recordings themselves as the product, instead of posters, etc.

  2. They may only have clear ownership of a very small percentage of the recordings.

    Pre-1972 masters don’t get Federal Copyright protection — though they do get state protection which varies. Ingram V Roberts pretty much says that ownership of the original master recording is sufficiant transfer of rights from the band leader to the new owner.

    Post 1972, there is Federal protection and there needs to be a signed writing transferring ownership of the master.

    I’m guessing — and I’m not a lawyer — that the auspices of how the original recording were made would be under some disagreement. Elton John may claim the 1970 recording of his concert at the Fillmore West was done for non-commercial purposes soley for posterity — something I see often in contracts with artists these days. Regardless, post 1972, there needs to be a piece of paper from the band to Graham giving Graham ownership of the master. I doubt that exists. There was probably a promoter agreement but I haven’t seen too many early 1970s agreements that dealt with the issue of a master recording at all.

    Since the ownership issue on the memoriabilia is more straightforward, it makes sense to only stream the content for free. The artist arguement here, by the way, and I’m very pro-artist, is pretty weak. Since there is no issue selling a Doors T-shirt as we can assume the royalty or payment to the artist for that item had already been paid decades ago, the artists are claiming the “illegal” music (masters post February 1972) are being used to help sell the merchandise. Notice, the merchandise isn’t the issue. It’s a weak arguement.

    Sagan could have opened a container of rotted Birkenstocks. He took the risk and won. The post 1972 master recordings will be a bigger issue but the merchandise should be free and clear. He’ll sell merchandise until he recoups his investment then go for the release of the pre-1972 recordings or sell to someone else. No sense starting a fight until he gets his cash back. Unfortunately for him, the artists didn’t want to wait until then and brought the fight to him.