Sound recording copyright issues to be tackled by 2013

Oct 27, 2011
The U.S. Copyright Office said it plans to address the issue of pre-1972 recording copyrights.

The U.S. Copyright Office recently released a document outlining the organization's agenda through 2013. Among the many topics it plans to focus on, the office identified the legal treatment of pre-1972 sound recordings and the issue of public performance of sound recordings.

Because federal copyright law does not currently protect sound recordings made before 1972, the Copyright Office has undertaken a study regarding the possibility of extending copyrights to earlier recordings, the report stated. The study is scheduled for a December release.

The report noted that the United States does not extend public performance protections. This means traditional radio broadcasters can play a recording of a live performance over the air without paying royalties to the copyright holder or obtaining the holder's permission to broadcast. The report characterized this as unfair to copyright holders and to internet businesses, which cannot play live performances over the internet without paying royalties or obtaining permission. The Copyright Office stated it will work with Congress to change this law.

Sound recording copyright law has been in the news lately, due to the fact that a 1976 law gave artists the option to recover copyrights from record labels after 35 years. As of 2013, artists can begin reclaiming copyrights, and musicians such as Bob Dylan and Tom Petty have already filed to do so, causing hand-wringing among record executives, The New York Times reported.