July 24 – July 31, 2008 Edition

Library Council Urges
Congress to Preserve
Old Sound Recordings

ANAHEIM, CA/7/24/08–The American Library Association Council last week passed a resolution emphasizing the need to preserve and provide access to sound recordings made prior to February 1972. The resolution was passed at the ALA’s 2008 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

In the resolution, the Council urges Congress to charge the U.S. Copyright Office to study the desirability of bringing sound recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction. Under current US copyright law, all sound recordings issued in the United States prior to that date are prevented from entering the public domain until 2067. This places historical recordings at significant risk of loss by thwarting preservation programs because of the uncertainty over whether creating preservation copies would violate copyright law.

Unlike books, paintings, photographs and other creative works, sound recordings are technology dependent, so that if a pre-1972 sound recording is not reissued in a contemporary format (digital file or compact disc), the content is generally not accessible to the public or scholarly community.

The National Recording Preservation Board has shown that only 14 percent of recordings of historical value from the first 75 years of commercial sound recording (1890-1964) have been reissued by their owners.