Sunday, September 01, 2013

More troubles for artists thanks to the US Copyright Office

The US copyright system appear to have been designed entirely for a class of people who are knowledgable about legal issues and/or can afford regular access to legal counsel. 

In addition to the troubles the US Copyright Office caused me by allowing Edward Einhorn to submit a copyright on his bogus "blocking and choreography" script - which was a derivative work although Einhorn seems to have filed the original copyright as a primary work, and removing my name entirely from registration;  those rules have also lead to trouble for the author of the Motown hit "Money."
Unbeknown to Mr. Strong, who also helped write many other Motown hits, his name was removed from the copyright registration for “Money” three years after the song was written, restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, then removed again the next year — his name literally crossed out.
Documents at the copyright office show that all of these moves came at the direction of Motown executives, who dispute Mr. Strong’s claim of authorship. Berry Gordy Jr., Motown’s founder, declined requests for an interview, but his lawyers contend that the original registration resulted from a clerical error, and that Mr. Strong passed up numerous opportunities to assert his claim.
Mr. Strong said he learned of the alterations only late in 2010 and has been struggling ever since to have his authorship officially reinstated. At stake: his ability to share in the lucrative royalties from the song’s use. But his efforts have been blocked by a provision of copyright law that says he relinquished his rights by failing to act in a timely fashion to contest Motown’s action. 
Mr. Strong’s predicament illustrates a little-known oddity in the American copyright system, one that record and music publishing companies have not hesitated to exploit. The United States Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, does not notify authors of changes in registrations, and until recently the only way to check on any alterations was to go to Washington and visit the archives personally.
And the wealthy never fail to take advantage of their privileges.