On Monday, the Internet Archive joined a coalition of the library and archives community, including the Society of American Archivists, The Archive of Contemporary Music, the Music Library Association, and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections among others, in sending a letter to Senate leadership addressing two pieces of legislation, each seeking to improve the confusing world of music copyright law. We’ve blogged about each of these bills here before, one is known as the CLASSICS Act and the other as the ACCESS to Recordings Act.
Although both bills seek to remedy the situation for older sound recordings from before 1972, which are not protected by federal copyright law but rather only by a patchwork of state laws, the CLASSICS Act goes about doing so in a one-sided manner that would give away valuable rights to big record labels and leave libraries and the public out. Although attempts are apparently being made in closed-door negotiations to even out the balance, the Internet Archive and the rest of the coalition believe that the CLASSICS Act is beyond fixing, as articulated in detail on our letter, and should be rejected by Congress.
The ACCESS to Recordings Act, on the other hand, would harmonize older sound recordings with every other type of work protected under copyright law, granting rights to performers and the full set of exceptions and limitations, including a robust public domain, allowing researchers, historians and music fans alike to access our cultural heritage. The coalition therefore supports the ACCESS Act as the correct and more sensible path forward on bringing pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright protection.
If you care about this issue, the best thing you can do now is pick up the phone and call your own Senators to let them know you oppose the CLASSICS Act and support the ACCESS to Recordings Act. You can also go to EFF’s website to take action opposing CLASSICS and you can go the Public Knowledge’s website to support ACCESS.