Want To Get A Sense Of Just How Complex And Confusing Copyright Law Really Is?

from the then-check-this-out... dept

Michael Scott points us to an article concerning the Library of Congress issuing a report on how copyright law applies to libraries who possess unpublished audio works recorded prior to 1972. The problem, you see, is that no one was exactly sure whether or not these recordings were actually covered by copyright law. The real problem, though, becomes pretty clear pretty quickly as you read through the article: copyright law is a house of cards. We just keep layering new rules on top of old rules, and figure the courts will sort out the places where they contradict, overlap or confuse. But that leaves a ton of uncertainty in a variety of situations -- including this particular one. It should be a simple question: if a library is in possession of an unpublished sound recording from before 1972, what's the copyright status? But the mess that is copyright law makes it such that it's hardly an easy question at all -- and actually requires an 85-page report from the Library of Congress to go through all of the nuances. And then your everday individual is expected to understand what is "right" and "wrong" in copyright law?
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Filed Under: confusion, copyright law, libraries, unpublished

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2009 @ 1:14am

    Re: You've got it backwards

    Whether copyright law prior to 1978 was a mess is irrelevant; by retroactively extending preexisting copyrights with "crazy, bizarro rights" attached, Congress, rather than clarifying copyright law with the Copyright Act, muddled the mess further and dragged it across the next several decades.

    If Congress had chosen to not make the Copyright Act's extensions retroactive, all these works would've already fallen into the public domain, as their contract with the public at the time of their creation dictated, and this 85-page report could be replaced by a single line.

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