[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 89 (Monday, May 9, 2011)]
[Pages 26769-26771]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-11224]



Copyright Office

[Docket No. 2010-4]

Federal Copyright Protection of Sound Recordings Fixed Before 
February 15, 1972

AGENCY: Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting.


SUMMARY: The Copyright Office will host a public meeting to discuss the 
desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before 
February 15, 1972 under Federal jurisdiction. The meeting will provide 
a forum, in the form of a roundtable discussion, for interested parties 
to address the legal, policy, and factual questions raised so far 
regarding pre-1972 sound recordings. It will take place on June 2 and 
3, 2011 at the Copyright Office in Washington, DC. In order to 
participate in the meeting, interested parties should submit a request 
via the Copyright Office Web site.

DATES: The public meeting will take place on Thursday, June 2, 2011 
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, June 3, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 
Requests for participation must be received in the Office of the 
General Counsel of the Copyright Office no later than Monday, May 16, 
2011 at 5 p.m. E.D.T.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will take place in the Copyright Office 
Hearing Room, Room LM-408 of the Madison Building of the Library of 
Congress, 101 Independence Ave., SE., Washington, DC. The Copyright 
Office strongly prefers that requests for participation be submitted 
electronically. A public meeting page containing a request form is 
posted on the Copyright Office Web site at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/sound/. Persons who are unable to submit a request electronically 
should contact Attorney-Advisor Chris Weston at 202-707-8380.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David O. Carson, General Counsel, or 
Chris Weston, Attorney-Advisor, Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, 
Washington, DC 20024. Telephone: (202) 707-8380. Telefax: (202) 707-

[[Page 26770]]



    Congress has directed the U.S. Copyright Office to conduct a study 
on the desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before 
February 15, 1972 under Federal jurisdiction. Currently, such sound 
recordings are protected under a patchwork of state statutory and 
common laws from their date of creation until 2067. The legislation 
mandating this study states that it is to:

    cover the effect of federal coverage on the preservation of such 
sound recordings, the effect on public access to those recordings, 
and the economic impact of federal coverage on rights holders. The 
study is also to examine the means for accomplishing such coverage.

H.R. 1105, Public Law 111-8 [Legislative Text and Explanatory 
Statement] 1769.
    On November 3, 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office published a Notice 
of Inquiry seeking comments on the question of bringing pre-1972 sound 
recordings under Federal jurisdiction. 75 FR 67777 (November 3, 2010). 
The notice provided background as to why state law protection of pre-
1972 sound recordings has not been preempted, unlike state law 
protection of other kinds of potentially copyrightable works. It also 
discussed the belief of some in the library and archives community that 
the absence of a Federal protection scheme for sound recordings has 
impeded the preservation and public availability of these recordings. 
In an attempt to understand the various effects that federalizing 
protection for pre-1972 sound recordings might have, the notice posed 
30 specific questions to commenters regarding preservation and access, 
economic impact, term of protection, constitutional considerations, and 
other aspects of federalization.
    The Copyright Office received 58 comments in response to its 
inquiry, along with 231 copies of a form letter. The Office 
subsequently received 17 reply comments. All comments, along with the 
notice of inquiry, are available at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/sound/. The comments ran the gamut from general policy arguments to 
proposals for new legislative language and, as anticipated, illuminate 
a variety of experiences and perspectives. Some comments raised new 
legal questions, and others deepened the Office's understanding of the 
number and variety of pre-1972 sound recordings at issue. The Copyright 
Office is holding a public meeting in order to permit interested 
parties to present their views and discuss areas of agreement and 
disagreement through a roundtable discussion.

Requests for Participation

    The Office has divided up the topics it wishes to discuss into nine 
sessions--five on June 2, 2011 and four on June 3, 2011--and briefly 
describes them below. These descriptions only note the major issues for 
each session and do not necessarily list every subject appropriate for 
    Day 1, Session 1--Assessing the Landscape: What are the legal and 
cultural difficulties--as well as benefits--attributable to state law 
protection of pre-1972 sound recordings?
    Day 1, Session 2--Availability of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings: What 
is the true extent of public availability of pre-1972 sound recordings? 
In relation to the overall availability of such recordings, how 
significant are rights-holder reissue programs and recent donations to 
the Library of Congress?
    Day 1, Session 3--Effects of Federalization on Preservation, 
Access, and Value: What benefits would federalization have with respect 
to preservation of and public access to pre-1972 sound recordings? Are 
those benefits quantifiable (i.e., in economic or cultural terms)? How 
would federalization affect the economic and cultural value of pre-1972 
sound recordings? Are such effects quantifiable?
    Day 1, Session 4--Effects of Federalization on Ownership and 
Business Expectations: What effects would federalization have with 
respect to ownership status, publication status, contracts, termination 
rights, registration requirements, and other business aspects of pre-
1972 sound recordings? To what extent would these results depend on the 
manner in which federalization might be effected?
    Day 1, Session 5--Effects of Federalization on Statutory Licensing: 
As a matter of logic, policy, and law, should pre-1972 sound recordings 
be eligible for the section 114 statutory license? Can and should they 
be subject to the section 114 statutory license if they are not 
otherwise brought into the Federal statutory scheme?
    Day 2, Session 1--Term of Protection: Assuming that copyright 
protection for pre-1972 sound recordings is federalized, what are the 
best options for the term of protection of federalized pre-1972 sound 
recordings? Should pre-1923 recordings be considered separately? What 
about unpublished recordings? If federalized pre-1972 sound recordings 
are given shorter terms than they had under state law, should term 
extensions be offered as an incentive to rights-holders who make their 
recordings publicly available within a specified period of time?
    Day 2, Session 2--Constitutional Considerations: Is it appropriate 
to grant Federal copyright protection to works already created, fixed, 
and in some cases published? Are there circumstances under which 
federalization of pre-1972 sound recordings would effect a ``taking'' 
under the Fifth Amendment? If so, how could this be addressed in the 
    Day 2, Session 3--Alternatives to Federalization: What alternatives 
to federalization, if any, should be considered and why?
    Day 2, Session 4--Summing Up: In light of this public meeting and 
of the comments received, please sum up your views on (1) whether pre-
1972 sound recordings should be brought within the protection of 
Federal copyright law and (2) in the case of federalization, what 
adaptations to existing law would be necessary or advisable.
    Requests to participate should be submitted online at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/sound/. The online form asks for the requestor's 
name, organization, title, postal mailing address, telephone number, 
fax number, and an e-mail address, although not all of the information 
is required. The requestor should also indicate, in order of 
preference, the sessions in which the requestor wishes to participate. 
Depending upon the level of interest, the Copyright Office may not be 
able to seat every participant in every session he or she requests, so 
it is helpful to know which topics are most important to each 
participant. In addition, please note that while an organization may 
bring multiple representatives, only one person per organization may 
participate in a particular session. A different person from the same 
organization may, of course, participate in another session.
    Requestors who have already submitted a comment, or who will be 
representing an organization that has submitted a comment, are asked to 
identify their comments on the request form. Requestors who have not 
submitted comments should include a brief summary of their views on the 
topics they wish to discuss, either directly on the request form or as 
an attachment. To meet accessibility standards, all attachments must be 
uploaded in either the Adobe Portable Document File (PDF) format that 
contains searchable, accessible text (not an image); Microsoft Word; 
WordPerfect; Rich Text Format (RTF); or ASCII text file format (not a 

[[Page 26771]]

document). The name of the submitter and organization (if any) should 
appear on both the form and the face of any attachments.
    Nonparticipants who wish to attend and observe the discussion 
should note that seating is limited and, for nonparticipants, will be 
available on a first come, first served basis.

    Dated: May 4, 2011.
Maria A. Pallante,
Acting Register of Copyrights.
[FR Doc. 2011-11224 Filed 5-6-11; 8:45 am]