Report offers advice on music modernization law


New Library of Congress report offers tips and resources for those looking to understand the new changes

Posted: May 28, 2021

Changes to US copyright law with respect to music licensing and sound recording are expected to have a significant impact on libraries and archives that preserve sound recordings.

That’s the consensus of a new report released by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. In 2018, Congress passed some of the most significant legislative reforms to U.S. copyright law in the past 20 years in the form of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act. According to the Library of Congress, the act fundamentally reshapes the music licensing and legal status of sound recordings made before 1972 by subjecting those recordings to federal copyright law for the first time.

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The law deals with the modernization of music in three sections: the law on the modernization of musical works, the law on the protection and access to classics and the law on the allocation to music producers. The Library of Congress report – called Orrin Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act: A Guide for Sound Recordings Collectors ”- provides clarification on each section of the law it applies to record keepers and provides a summary of the legislation and its implementation. “It will serve to guide record holders in their efforts to preserve sound recordings and make them accessible via digital streaming,” the Library of Congress said in a May 27 statement.

One of the most significant changes implemented by the law is the fact that registrations made before 1972 will now be under federal protection for the first time. The law also creates sliding protection conditions that allow historical recordings to enter the public domain from 2022.

In addition, the law establishes new responsibilities for libraries, archives, museums and individuals who hold collections of sound recordings. In addition to creating a public domain for sound recordings, the law created new rights and procedures for institutions to obtain a license to release funds and revised the licensing process for music performed on recordings, often referred to as underlying works.

The new law attempts to provide uniform procedures for authorizing recordings for streaming, which vary depending on the age and type of recording. The law also establishes new requirements and processes in terms of audio streaming via an interactive service where listeners select content (as opposed to predefined content found on live radio for example).

The report also offers a series of tools and resources, including tips for sound recording owners who offer digital streaming services of their collection, information for educational audio broadcasters, and an explanation of how. The law affects the sections of copyright law applicable to libraries archives.

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