Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a new and improved version of the Music Modernization Act, following the Senate’s lead from last week. We had expressed strong reservations about the earlier iterations of this bill, and its impact on the public domain for sound recordings. We’re happy to say that after extensive negotiations spearheaded by Senator Ron Wyden, the new version of the bill brings these works more fully into line with with the existing copyright system for legacy works and finally allows these recordings to enter the public domain. The bill now heads to the President’s desk.
Today, Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced the ACCESS to Recordings Act, which would extend federal copyright protection to pre-1972 sound recordings, and in doing so, harmonize them with their modern counterparts. Public Knowledge applauds Senator Wyden for acknowledging the injustices posed by the current system and fighting to rationalize our 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.
On today's podcast, Public Knowledge's VP of Legal Affairs and resident copyright expert Sherwin Siy breaks down a big week in copyright reform! Sherwin discusses three major court decisions on copyright--involving a dancing baby, the Happy Birthday song, and the Batmobile--and talks about why the monkey selfie debate is back in the news.
This post is the third installment of #CopyrightwithCourtney, a series from Courtney Duffy on the copyright challenges faced by artists in various disciplines. Courtney, who is the Robert W. Deutsch Arts & Technology Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge, focused on authorship in her first post. In this post, she continues her three-part series on filmmaking.