Happy New Year Biz Talkers! It was certainly a great 2016 holiday season for digital music providers. That’s because on December 20, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that there is no public performance right for sound recordings created before February 15, 1972 in the Flo & Eddie Inc. vs Sirius XM Radio, Inc. case.
The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 only protects sound recordings made on or after February 15, 1972. Sound recordings made before that date are governed by a collection of varying state common law rights that are not easily defined or applied to a given case.
What does all this mean for the music biz? It means that digital streaming companies like Sirius do not have to pay fees for the streaming of pre-1972 sound recordings over the web! It also means that there will be “wild west” type activity in the New York State legislature pursued by recording artists and record labels to pressure lawmakers to make changes in the law concerning copyright protections in pre-1972 sound recordings. There is no doubt that this will occur in view of the loss in revenue suffered by recording artists and record labels due to this decision. One lawyers opinion-Why shouldn’t the recording artist’s and record labels get a piece of the large revenue pie for the use of their pre-1972 recordings?- many of which are generational classics.
It will be very interesting to see the reaction of the US Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office which have been looking at the possibility of protecting pre-1972 sound recordings under the Federal Copyright Act for the last several years. Stay tuned as it looks like there will be fireworks in the music industry well before the 4th of July. Until next time, peace and blessings!