Law Protecting Pre-1972 Recordings Proposed in Senate

Vinyl records, including Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'," are displayed. Photographer: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg

Legislation to grant federal copyright protections to pre-1972 sound recordings was introduced in the Senate yesterday to increase safeguards and royalties for artists and rights holders.

The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act, introduced by Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-La.), would create a statutory license for digital streaming or downloads of all music, even pre-1972 sound recordings, and mandate payment of royalties. The bill was co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Under current law, pre-1972 sound recordings are not subject to federal copyright law, so only post-1972 recordings receive payments from music streaming services. Recordings made before then are subject to a patchwork of state laws.

The legislation is a companion bill to a House of Representatives version introduced in July 2017 by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).