copyright question

A. Joseph Ross
Thu Mar 25 01:50:27 EDT 2010

On 24 Mar 2010 at 21:58, Donna Halper wrote:

> I know we probably don't have a ton of attorneys on this list, but we
> do have some authors.  I am working on a magazine article and I wanted
> to print a scanned copy of a top-40 survey from, let's say, the old
> WMEX, which is now defunct.  Or perhaps the old WRKO back when it was
> top-40.  Who gives the permissions for that these days-- WMEX is long
> gone, and the management of WRKO today is quite different from the old
> Drake top-40 days... I don't wanna print something and then gave
> somebody threaten to sue me! 
This is a complicated question.  If the survey form is old enough, 
it's possible that the copyright was never renewed under the old 
copyright law.  If the first 28-year term of the copyright expired 
after sometime after the late 1980s (I don't know the exact date), 
when the United States joined the Berne Convention and US copyright 
law was changed to conform to Berne, those copyrights were renewed 

Next, assuming the copyrights are still in force, is who now controls 
the rights.  In the case of WRKO, which still has a continuing 
existence, the present owners may control rights and be able to grant 
permissions.  Or, if the company which then owned WRKO is still in 
existence, perhaps they do.  Or perhaps there is a successor company 
which succeeded to its rights.  Which may even be the current 
ownership of WRKO.

WMEX is a bigger problem.  The same principles apply, but it seems 
less likely that the present owners of 1510 would control the rights 
to WMEX survey forms.  Most likely it would be the heirs of the 
Richmond Brothers.

It's also possible that reprinting the survey sheets in a magazine 
article some 40-50 years later would constitute "fair use," which is 
an exception to copyright protection.  

If you are going to offer the article to a magazine, I would suggest 
you raise the problem with the magazine. They probably have some 
experience in dealing with rights issues.

None of this is to be considered legal advice.  Had this actually 
been actual legal advice, you would have been told to tune to 640 or 
1240 for instructions on payment of your bill.

A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
 92 State Street, Suite 700                   Fax 617.507.7856
Boston, MA 02109-2004           

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