I'm still kind of mad about Dave Marsh's article above.
Just looking at Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell's bio of Leadbelly...it turns out that Alan and John Lomax's initial appointment to the LoC for collecting was for...one dollar a year! A purely symbolic payment.
The falling out with Leadbelly was not originally because he begrudged them the portion of publishing rights. It started because John Lomax gave LB post-dated checks to force LB to save some of his money (he claims he did this at the request of LB's wife). LB was pissed off and initiated legal proceedings, including trying to get rights and fees back. When LB tried to make it in NY a second time without the Lomaxes' support, though, he found out that they really HAD been working for him, essentially as manager, agent and promoter all in one. That's why they expected a portion of LB's earnings. None of this seems outrageous to me, especially as LB signed the contracts in the first place knowing their significance.
It would not make sense for Lomax to take "his name" (sic) off the song so that LB's family could make more money, anyway. If they were still impoverished after getting the same amount for the song that Lomax got (the credit was half to LB, half to John Lomax, none to Alan), he could always give them money. But in the future if they were rich and he was poor, why not retain the rights that Lomax picked up for all that work of being LB's manager, agent and patron?
Finally, that part about Peter Bochan editing the Lomax tape into Beavis and Butthead--is there anyone else here who thinks that makes Bochan look like a MUCH bigger asshole than Lomax?