Clearly there must be undead (and actually unknown, in this case) artists who benefit, otherwise the current state of copyright wouldn’t make any sense!
Since apparently we don’t even know who wrote the lyrics and presumably the copyright was, if ever claimed, never actually renewed, that potentially rather leaves open the possibility that it will be public domain, doesn’t it? Or at least muddies the waters enough that there’s no one who can unambiguously claim the right of ownership? (Which could be hilarious - with no one able to license or publicly perform the song.)
Martin Shkreli just bought exclusive rights to the song and is now charging $750 per use.
Hey, that’s good news for me. 90% discount!
It’s not hilarious. It happens all the time, and is called an “Orphan Work” which basically means nobody gets to use it forever, since the law has become a shadow of its former self. Twisted, and evil.
No, the typical way orphaned works are handled now is that they revert to nobody, nobody legally can license them, and since content creators are gutless they’d rather pass up something that belongs to nobody than risk a suit from the kleptomaniacal labels/RIAA.
I mean, we’re not going to try to find it on Spotify…
It’s the principle of the thing. It’s the principle that matters.
Well in this case it strikes me as hilarious because it’s such a common element of American shared culture. If it disappears from recorded culture entirely, it becomes this glaring absurdity - one that hopefully spurs some changes in copyright law regarding orphaned work. Something which is long overdue given the detrimental impact the issue of orphaned works is having on film history, for example - the majority of early films are orphaned works and are physically decaying, being permanently lost, as a result.
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