There are times when the US copyright laws seem to stem from a culture that puts little value on providing public access to its own past. Two recent conferences discussed problems raised by copyright laws for those interested in multimedia (especially sound) recordings. Part of the discussion focused on how to interpret the copyright status of pre‐1972 sound recordings. One provision of the current law appears to throw all pre‐1972 sound recordings into a uniquely old‐fashioned situation where no federal copyright regulation applies until all protection ceases in 2067. Many common assumptions based on the 1976 law and on analogies from print may not hold up.
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