Copyright Office Exploring Issue Over Pre-1972 Sound Recordings & Copyright

from the public-domain? dept

In the past, we've covered how pre-1972 sound recordings are not covered by federal copyright law, because Congress, back in 1909, felt that the Constitution did not allow copyright to cover sound recordings because such recordings did not qualify as "writings." Unfortunately, without federal copyright law, various states passed copyright laws which covered those works with protections that often far exceeded federal law. When federal copyright law was changed in 1976, sound recordings were then included but pre-1972 recordings were left under the old system. Because of that, many works that would, ordinarily, actually be getting close to entering the public domain are being held back, as the state copyright laws they're covered by will keep them locked up for many, many more years.

This topic has been getting a lot more interest lately, both in academia and with the discovery that certain works are being withheld from the public due to these issues. Apparently, all that attention has caught Congress' interest, and the Copyright Office has been asked to explore the issue of copyright on pre-1972 sound recordings. The Copyright Office is asking for people to weigh in on the subject (thanks to everyone who sent this in). I wouldn't be surprised to see the Copyright Office work out a way to retroactively put those works under federal copyright law -- and I doubt there would be too many people holding the copyright on, say, recordings from World War I, protesting. However, when it comes to copyright issues, it's hard to predict who will come out of the woodwork to complain... Of course, some would argue that the idea that any pre-1972 works are still covered by any copyright at all is a travesty.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Nov 1st, 2010 @ 8:33pm

    my prediction

    When it comes to any new developments in Copyright law, I have a general rule-of-thumb for predicting outcomes that works pretty well:

    Of all the ideas that will be presented, whatever arrangement represents the worst possible scenario for the general public will become the new law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    ZD, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 8:57pm

    Re: my prediction

    Of course. This is because the people voting on the matter are voting in the interest of their own pocketbook rather than the interests of you. If you had a few millions dollars and some friends willing to splurge too, I'm sure your representative would be more than happy to take your opinion into consideration however.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    But if copyright didn't last 101 years then no one would ever create sound recordings. Won't someone think of the great-great-grandchildren!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 1:41am

    Re: Re: my prediction

    unfortunately, I don't have a spare million bucks laying around. I'm just a poor content creator, not a wealthy middle-man.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Richard (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 3:56am

    Re:

    Of course, if there were no copyright the fund and release model would work perfectly well (see the recent musopen initiative on kickstarter).

    The problem is that fund and release faces unfair competition from the copyright lobby who insist on creating stuff at no cost to the public and then using sneaky laws to extort money afterwards.

    Thesde copyright addicts need to move into the real world and get their funding in place before they do the work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 6:51am

    Instead of ruining everyone else's lives to make a living, the sorry losers who work for our government need to get real jobs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re:

    There's nothing wrong with speculative production in and of itself. There is something wrong though when middle men have become what the laws protect rather than the artists. Many of the current problems would dissolve overnight if we made copyright non-transferable/assignable and invalidated/prohibited grants of exclusive rights to distribute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Richard (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There's nothing wrong with speculative production in and of itself.
    Yes of course - I was just reversing their arguments.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re:

    "The problem is that fund and release faces unfair competition from the copyright lobby who insist on creating stuff at no cost to the public and then using sneaky laws to extort money afterwards."

    The problem is that the copy"right" lobby just so happens to control the use radio broadcasting airwaves and cableco infrastructure and they blacklist independently controlled content or permissibly licensed content from these media outlets. They also demand absurd payments from restaurants and other venues that want to play independent music because someone might possibly infringe and they even add all these absurd regulations to Internet radio to make it more difficult for them too. This makes it harder for independent artists to gain recognition that they can take advantage of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Federal Expressly?

    Wouldn't copyright be specifically one of those expressly federal powers expressly retained by the federal government and not yielded over to the states whether exercized or not?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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