Sony Releases Bob Dylan Collection to Preserve Copyright

January 9, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Sony Music released a compilation of previously unreleased Bob Dylan recordings in a handful of record stores across Europe shortly after Christmas in order to take advantage of a change in the European copyright law.

Sony has said it planned the release in order to extend the copyright protection of the unreleased recordings.  Previously, Europe only allowed copyright protection for 50 years from creation.  The European Union revised its copyright laws in 2011, extending copyright protection to 70 years.

However, the law mandates that the copyrighted material be published before the 50-year term ends or the 20-year extension is invalid.  As the recordings from 1962 would have lost copyright protection with the New Year, the collections post Christmas release just made the deadline.

Sony appropriately named the collection “The 50th Anniversary Collection,” with the subtitle “The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol.1.”  The company will likely continue to release its archived Bob Dylan recordings in order to keep copyright ownership.

“The 50th Anniversary Collection” boasts 86 tracks, all of which are previously unreleased studio outtakes and live recordings from 1962-1963.  It contains session recordings that give a different take on popular songs such as “I Shall Be Free” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” in addition to songs that never made the final cut and live recordings from various venues.

The collection is only officially available to European fans.  One hundred copies of the collection were sold in stores in Germany, France, Sweden, and Britain from as low as $39 to as high as $138 at a record store in Britain.

In addition to the 100 copies sold in stores, the CD is available digitally through the website bobdylan.com.  However, it can only be downloaded by those who log on to the site from France or Germany.

American fans will have to pay a hefty price to gain access to the collection.  Some of the original 100 copies have already shown up on eBay, with bids as high as $1,450.

Sony is one of the few record labels to adopt to the change of law in Europe.  However, Sony is not the only one.  Universal, which owns the right to Motown’s recordings, released “Motown Unreleased 1962” in order to take advantage of the 20-year copyright extension.