The Music Modernization Act is Bad for the Preservation of Sound Recordings

There’s a bill working its way through Congress called the Music Modernization Act (the current bill is a mix of several bills, the portion we are concerned with was formerly called the CLASSICS Act) that has us very concerned about the fate of historical sound recordings. As currently drafted, this bill would vastly expand the rights of performers of pre-1972 sound recordings, without any provision for a public domain for these works or meaningful fair use and library exceptions. After a visit to Washington DC meeting with various Congressional staffers working on this issue, we do not believe that the CLASSICS portion of the bill will be fixed. We therefore oppose the CLASSICS portion of the Music Modernization Act.

We agree with EFF on this, and they have written on the subject as well.

By way of background, sound recordings made before 1972 are not currently protected by federal copyright law, and have state law protection until 2067. To fix some real unfairness for a small group of still-living performance artists mostly from the 1960’s, this bill would give federal “pseudo-copyright” protection for digital performances for works going back to 1923. The bill would leave the rest under state law creating an even more complex and confusing legal landscape for libraries wishing to preserve these historical recordings for future generations.

Copyright law is meant to be a careful balance between creators and the public. This bill is a give away to a small group of commercial interests that leaves libraries and the public they serve behind. We hope Congress will reject this portion of the MMA.

6 thoughts on “The Music Modernization Act is Bad for the Preservation of Sound Recordings

  1. Sean Ramsdell

    What is it that they’re going to do with pre-1972 recordings (money for digital performances aside)?

  2. Charlotte Ameil

    Copyright is a good idea if when you release something you want to turn it into whatever your society calls money at the time you release it for as long as you wish to. Copyright is a bad idea if the only way you can get those tokens from your work is from a large group of others who create those pieces of wealth.

    In the end a work of creation has no real monetery value. Other than what those who wish you use it apply.

  3. Loving Beast

    This is nothing surprising. The RIAA just keeps getting greedier and greedier. Anything they feel that can ruin and destroy the free market to make a buck they will do it. Then they wonder why there are so many pirates and not enough original artists. I guess Don Mclean was right about “the day the music died”. I guess this is what they really meant by “make America great again” was to simply rebrand and rehash the old music and recordings for a buck.

  4. Dominic Adams

    Yeah. We want music of the past to be preserved for future generations, and for the generations to have easy access to them. We don’t want the law to make pre-1972 music fade into obscurity.

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