[ Ref: 1908 Copyright Case "White-Smith vs. Apollo", 011120 MMD
[ Ray Finch replied to Matthew expressing his thanks. ]
You're very welcome. If this thread continues on MMD, or there is any
interest in hearing more, I am thinking of writing a follow-up to MMD
about "Practical approach to legal issues surrounding making or copying
music rolls." Theoretically an old B.A.B. band organ roll, an old
Rhythmodik piano roll, or an old Welte roll are protected against
unauthorized copying until 2024. But in each case I would be hard put
to know who owns the rights to these rolls.
In the case of B.A.B., the equipment of the defunct company was sold
to Senator Bovey, whose heirs are still alive, but some papers and the
right to the B.A.B. name were sold to Gavin McDonough. There are still
members of the Brugnolotti family alive (the last B. in the name).
My guess is nobody knows or agrees who owns the roll rights. If you
were to copy and sell huge quantities of those B.A.B. rolls, someone
might challenge the legality. But who is going to hire a lawyer to
sort out the confusion if only a few rolls are involved?
Likewise with the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) in collecting fees for your
use of a copyrighted tune in making a new roll. When HFA is collecting
thousands of dollars from Columbia Records for pressing a million
seller record, do you think they are going to notice you cutting 12
copies of a piano roll?
Any merry-go-round owner whose band organ plays tunes of the 1920's or
later owes ASCAP royalties for the public performance of those tunes.
ASCAP does hit the big amusement parks and demand a license fee for
their use of music. But in the smaller venues it takes ASCAP a while
to notice and dun them for the money. Theoretically, organizers of
band organ rallies owe ASCAP something too, but nobody bothers to wake
that sleeping dog.
I think the rule of thumb for us is to let those sleeping dogs lie,
not to worry about the big fellows in the music business, and not to
steal the work of any roll maker, composer, or arranger who is alive
and active today.