A bit of a surprise, but the NY Times editorial board has come out in favor of making two specific changes to copyright law
, in response to two separate issues recently discussed here. Both are in response to the recent NY Times story (that we discussed
) concerning the treasure trove of jazz music that the National Jazz Museum has, but cannot make available due to copyright laws. The first problem is that, thanks to quirks in copyright law (including Congress' strong belief in 1909 that sound recordings could not
be covered by copyright, as per the Constitution), sound recordings from before 1972 are locked up for much longer
due to state laws. The second issue, discussed over and over again, is the concept of "orphan works." The NY Times figures that if we fixed both of those issues by (1) bringing those older sound recordings under federal law and (2) passing a slightly revised orphan works act, it would allow those jazz classics to be heard again.
While it's nice to see the NY Times editorial board concerned about this, it seems like if they were really serious about fixing copyright law, they wouldn't just focus on this one situation, but the overall issues associated with current copyright law. But, of course, since the newspaper mistakenly thinks it
needs strong copyright laws to survive, that seems unlikely.