This is an interesting discussion now that it has turned toward who owns what intelectual property and who should get paid for it.
I frequently go through life blissfully misinformed and because I trust most folks I take this information for fact. I seem to recall a PBS show with Pete Seegar discussing this very topic in part.
My memory seems to say that at one time if an artist recorded an album of Public Domain stuff it was as if they were contract for hire. The record company could pay them a union wage which at the time was laughable and the record company collected the lions share of the return on the album. This would mean that no matter how many albums an artist might sell at a gig the money went back to In The Grove Records because the artists already where paid there $64.50 a gig and what ever the hourly rate was for the recording. Is this correct? Sandy? any of the business historians?
When a performer would copyright an arangement then a percentage of money from sales would go the copyright holder. So if The Weavers got a billboard hit of On Top of Old Smokey, Lyrics P. Domain, arrangement by Paul Campbell, at least The Weavers would get some financial credit for the work. Is this correct?
Ofcourse all this is also subject to how a recording contract is written and how hot your Perry Mason may be.
How did I do? Is any of this correct or am I completely off base.