YouTube: Jazz for Free

Should jazz be given away?

Perhaps some of you have purchased or viewed DVDs such as "Gene Krupa: Jazz Legend," "Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend,' "Lionel Hampton: King of the Vibes," "Lgends of Jazz Drumming," "Classic Drum Solos and Drum Battles," and "Classic Jazz Drummers: Swing and Beyond."

I am proud to have been the writer and co-producer of all of them, but I have serious doubts as to whether there will be more of this type of product forthcoming. The reason? YouTube and its clones have posted--and continue to post-- many of the clips from these productions for free and without credit to anyone.

Basically, this is stealing, and sadly, if we hired a bank of lawyers to work full time on this issue for a year, we still couldn't make a dent in it. Someone more in the know than I recently commented on the legal aspects of this issue by saying, "Go ahead and sue them, but be prepared to wait in line behind CNN, NBC, Disney, Parmount and the rest.

No thanks.

What I absolutely fail to understand is just how the folks who post all this stuff, complete with original on-screen titling, yet, can ignore just where this material came from. Would it hurt to at least credit Hudson Music, Alfred Publishing or JazzLegends.com as the source? When I confronted one YouTube poster about this, he claimed he found the video "Gene Krupa: Jazz Legend" in an unmarked box and had no idea where it came from. The credits, of course, clearly spell out the source involved.

Those who post such things have made making a living in this field very, very difficult. Indeed, one member of the JazzLegends.com community decreed that jazz should be free for everyone.

I've often imagined the following scenario: I show up on someone's houst painting gig, and I go up to the home owner who's paying the painter and say I'll do the gig for free. I wonder what would happen. That is what is happening with the YouTube/jazz clip situation. Things that we once were paid for are now being given away.

There are ways to make YouTube work on our behalf, however. Bret Primack, aka "The Jazz Video Guy," produces superb jazz teasers that refer viewers back to the originating site.

Recently, I received a batch of emails about a YouTube posting of very rare newsreel footage of a 1953 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Helsinki. Though crudely synced up to pre-recorded audio, the clip nonetheless has strinking film footage of Lester Young, Gene Krupa, Oscar Peterson, Flip Phillips, Ella Fitzgerald and the rest of the JATP gang. Visitors to my site--www.JazzLegends.com--begged me to somehow make this available on DVD through my site. I had no idea how to do this, especially when I heard that downloading YouTube clips was difficult if not impossible.

I found a way, and now that clip, and a bunch of other vintage, public domain YouTube clips are available on DVD from my site. Am I, in fact, stealing from YouTube? I don't know, but as soon as I get to the head of the line--in front of Paramount, CNN and the rest--I'll let you know.

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Bruce Klauber