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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: copyright, public domain, sound recordings


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Richard (profile), 2 Nov 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.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.