Back in the fall, Jack White's Third Man Records and Revenant Records teamed up for a truly lavish box set containing six LPs that chronicle the output of celebrated jazz/blues/gospel label Paramount Records. Unfortunately, The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932, Volume 1 has now got them into some legal trouble, since they are facing a copyright dispute over the music.
Offbeat [via Spin] reports that jazz musician Lars Edegran has claimed that the George H. Buck, Jr. Jazz Foundation owns the rights to almost 800 songs included in the box set (and its accompanying digital component). Buck apparently purchased the recordings in 1970, and Third Man and Revenant allegedly never got proper licensing for the songs.
According to a statement from Edegran, "Sound recordings published before 1972 are not under federal copyright but are covered under common law or state anti-piracy statues. Third Man/Revenant Records claim that Paramount recordings are in the public domain."
Revenant co-founder Dean Blackwood offered this retort in an email to Offbeat: "We informed the foundation that we would gladly come to an agreement with them if they could prove ownership of the recordings. To date, they haven't produced anything that proves ownership. And although there is a more than 50-year history of labels large and small reissuing this material without their involvement, we remain open to discussions with them if they can prove ownership of the recordings."
Edegran, on the other hand, claims that numerous labels have legally licensed the recordings from the foundation over the years. While he concedes that some small labels have used the material without permission, it has never taken place on such a large scale as the Third Man box set.
In order to legally stake this claim over the recordings, he must prove that the foundation has asserted its ownership. He is currently in the midst of launching legal proceedings.
The second instalment of the wonder-cabinet is currently slated to come out this November. Presumably, its release will depend on the outcome of this case.