Protecting intellectual property is one of the most important matters of business in the entertainment industry. After all, people in the industry make their livings through sales, licensing deals and other transactions that depend upon copyright and other exclusive rights. When someone else is using protected material without permission, it can mean money out of one’s pocket. Of course, protecting these rights is easier said than done. Copyright law is especially difficult, not only because of the Internet, which has made copying and distributing without permission nearly effortless, but also because, with older works, it is often difficult to sort out who has what rights.

Recently, a group of nearly 100-year-old recordings became the subject of a copyright dispute that could take a long time to resolve. The recordings were released last fall by Third Man Records and Revenant Records as “The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-1932)” and packaged in an elaborate “cabinet of wonder” containing 800 digital files and six vinyl LPs, all collected in a handsome wooden case. Third Man’s founder, Jack White, is well known as the former guitarist and singer of the White Stripes, so the release received a lot of attention, despite the fact that the box set’s esoteric subject matter (old blues and jazz records) and high price tag ($400) seem destined to keep sales low.

Protecting intellectual property is one of the most important matters of business in the entertainment industry. After all, people in the industry make their livings through sales, licensing deals and other transactions that depend upon copyright and other exclusive rights. When someone else is using protected material without permission, it can mean money out of one’s pocket. Of course, protecting these rights is easier said than done. Copyright law is especially difficult, not only because of the Internet, which has made copying and distributing without permission nearly effortless, but also because, with older works, it is often difficult to sort out who has what rights.

Recently, a group of nearly 100-year-old recordings became the subject of a copyright dispute that could take a long time to resolve. The recordings were released last fall by Third Man Records and Revenant Records as “The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-1932)” and packaged in an elaborate “cabinet of wonder” containing 800 digital files and six vinyl LPs, all collected in a handsome wooden case. Third Man’s founder, Jack White, is well known as the former guitarist and singer of the White Stripes, so the release received a lot of attention, despite the fact that the box set’s esoteric subject matter (old blues and jazz records) and high price tag ($400) seem destined to keep sales low.