Yesterday, more than 40 intellectual property law professors sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and all members of the committee, urging them to reject or, at a minimum, amend the CLASSICS Act to ensure that its provisions are in line with existing federal copyright law.
Sound recordings made prior to 1972 don’t enjoy federal copyright protection. There’s a thorny legal and legislative history behind this, but the end result is that these recordings are only protected under state law. Federal copyright has evolved, with new rights, limitations, and user protections applied to copyrighted works -- but not to pre-’72 recordings. And as the internet became ubiquitous, consumption of these works began to cross state lines, further muddying the waters.
Today, Public Knowledge sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and to the House Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
Last Friday, the federal district court overseeing the BMI consent decree rejected the Department of Justice’s interpretation, holding that it did not prohibit so-called “fractional licensing.” In an opinion with little meaningful analysis, the court dismissed DOJ’s reading of the plain language of the consent decree, calling the consent decree language merely “descriptive.”