Alexander Temple Wolkonsky Rachmaninoff Wanamaker is the great-great-grandson of Sergei Rachmaninoff. And the 21-year-old University of Arizona student is about to take over Rachmaninoff’s legacy—and that includes rearranging Sergei’s works so they can be re-copyrighted.
“It’s as little rearrangement as possible, preferably,” he explained.
Wanamaker said the family already has approached a few composers about doing the rearrangement. “We’re in the process now of having the music rearranged so that we can re-establish the rights and generations can enjoy it for futures to come,” he said.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would think that generations would be able to enjoy the music for futures to come regardless of whether anybody’s making any money off of it. Sergei died in 1943—that means his post-1923 works (including the Symphonic Dances, the Paganini Rhapsody, and the Fourth Piano Concerto) already won’t start going into the public domain in the U.S. until 2019. And now, four generations removed, they’re trying to make sure that the royalties on those—and everything else—keep coming for another 95 years? (Actually, based on the fact that any “rearrangements” would probably be “works for hire,” they might fall under the 120-year corporate copyright term.) That’s pushing copyright’s “temporary monopoly” to possibly over two centuries, in some cases. From the article:
Wanamaker is quick to dispel concerns that the family will increase the fees for orchestras to rent and play Rachmaninoff. Actually, he says, the cost will be less because there will be fewer hands in the pot.
“What we would like to do is actually lower the prices,” he said, noting that over the past 30 years, royalties have generated at least $50 million in income that’s divided between the family and the publishing firms. Without the publishing firms, the family would get a bigger cut and could afford to drop the price, he reasoned.
Even a two-percent cut of that is more money then I’ll ever have, ever. Can’t he just invest what he’s got, and use the interest to pay for scotch and Jay-Z albums? The ridiculousness of the copyright regime in this country never ceases to amaze me.