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.

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Comments on “Copyright Office Exploring Issue Over Pre-1972 Sound Recordings & Copyright”

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ZD says:

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.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: 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.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

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