He has done his homework, both musically and legally, to deliver a punchy sermon with good graphic and multi-media accompaniment. His moral question for us to wrestle with:
grateful as I am to Alan Lomax for recording and disseminating so much great folk music, I remain baffled as to why he was allowed to copyright it. Our creative heritage deserves better stewardship than our current laws provide.
No one, not even a legal scholar, could explain it better than Lomax himself. He was a pioneering entrepreneurial conservationist, so it is important to get an answer to the question raised here about copyright. The simple answer is that Lomax and colleagues innovated their way to a solution by which today we have cultural patrimony that we might not otherwise have.
And there are plenty of cultural veins for today’s artists to mine, legal shortcomings notwithstanding. Listen to Track 8 here for an example as random as any those included on the graphic above. The label that is recorded on demonstrates that Lomax’s entrepreneurial example is still being followed, and its history is worth reading. And if you want to read about another Lomax-inspired valorization project, read this.