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Copyright Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Pre-1972 Commercial Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives by June Besek

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Commissioned for and sponsored by the National Recording Preservation Board, Library of Congress (December 2005)

Access to the full study is provided by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

Summary: This report addresses the question of what libraries and archives are legally empowered to do to preserve and make accessible for research their holdings of pre-1972 commercial recordings, the large aural legacy that is not protected by federal copyright. The first in-depth analysis by a nationally known expert in copyright law, it examines laws and judicial precedent in five key states. A principal finding was that most states cover sound recordings under “common law copyright” (judge-made law) rather than statute, and that it is almost always absolute and perpetual with few explicit provisions for preservation or access. This was codified in the sweeping Capitol v. Naxos decision in New York in 2005.