Senator Wyden (D-OR) has introduced a common sense bill to fix a bad mistake made by Congress in the 1970s as an alternative to the bad bill Congress is currently considering. The Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society (ACCESS) to Recordings Act would extend full federal copyright to sound recordings created before 1972–works that currently only have state law protection.
ACCESS is good for legacy musicians and good for libraries. This bill would help give legal certainty to library activities such as our Great 78 Project that seeks to preserve and give access to the millions of songs recorded on 78rpm discs from approximately 1900-1950. Many of these important cultural works are not commercially viable, and therefore could be lost forever without library intervention. ACCESS supports libraries’ ability to ensure the continued availability of our sound recording heritage.
“Copyright reform for pre-1972 sound recordings must consider the interests of all stakeholders – not just those of the for-profit record labels,” said Senator Wyden. “The ACCESS to Recordings Act, by applying the same term limits and rights and obligations that apply to other copyrighted works, would help preserve our cultural heritage and open up older works to rediscovery by scholars, creators and the public. I have serious concerns about the lengthy terms in current U.S. copyright law that tip the balance toward limiting rather than promoting creativity and innovation, but until Congress is willing to reconsider it, we shouldn’t go beyond those protections and provide unprecedented federal copyright term for sound recordings.”