Tennessee moves to protect pre-1972 sound recordings

March 2014

Sound recordings

Currently sound recordings in the USA created before February 15th 1972 fall outside of the federal Copyright Act. And now the owners of sound recordings CAN collect royalties for their use on satellite radio and Internet radio services like SiriusXM, this matters – and collection society Sound Exchange estimated that it could collect 15% or so more than the $590 million it collected in 2013 if the recordings were covered. In 2011, the U.S Copyright Office issued a report recommending Congress take action to change this, but so far, nothing’s happened. Except in Tennessee! State Senator Stacey Campfield decided to act, saying “The music industry—they came to me and said, ‘We’re not getting our royalties.’ They said it’s something that could have a big impact,” who has now introduced the “Legacy Sound Recording Protection Act” (SB/HB 2187) with Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) to close the federal loophole in Tennessee.

Whilst on first reading “he bill seems quite reasonable” and it seems most of its language is copied directly from federal copyright law, there have been some comments on the narrowness of the bill. Attorney Brandon Butler told Metro Pulse “The bill is strikingly one-sided. It gives rights-holders even more power than they have under federal law, but it gives the public, including libraries, journalists, and even other artists, none of the reuse rights that federal law includes” adding “The law is likely unconstitutional because it lacks fair-use protections,” Butler adds. The Bill also fails to include any provisions related to the first sale doctrine, which might mean that the state becomes the only place in the USA where record shops cannot re-sell second hand LPs, with University of Tennessee Law School professor Gary Pulsinelli saying that if the Bill passed as is, “It’s entirely possible a court would say that you can’t sell music recorded before 1972”. The draft Bill was provided to Senator Campfield by ‘sometime’ music industry lobbyist and copyright owner Tony Gottlieb, and has yet to reach a committee in either the House or the Senate in Tennessee.



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