Tell Congress to Support the ACCESS to Recordings Act!

A Broken System

Sound recordings made prior to 1972 do not enjoy federal copyright protection; they are only protected under state law. What does this patchwork system mean? How does it affect the preservation of our musical heritage? And why should it matter to you?

How Copyright Affects Me

If you have ever enjoyed the services of a library, studied history, or delved into an archive, the pre-72 “quirk” directly affects you. There are inconsistencies the current system maintains between literature, musical works, and sound recordings.

For example, the song “If You’ll Come Back” was published in 1924. The sheet music for this song will enter the public domain in 2020, but the 1924 recording of that work will continue on in private hands for a whopping 47 years beyond 2020. Why must sound recordings remain under lock and key while books and visual arts are allowed to be committed to the public domain and enrich the general public?

What Now?

Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a rational solution with the ACCESS to Recordings Act. It simply proposes that pre-1972 and post-1972 recordings be treated the same. This full federalization of copyright protections would enable all recordings to expire into the public domain both earlier and all at the same time -- strengthening the preservation of America’s musical heritage.

Act Now

What can you do to strengthen the usable public domain and the foundation for creativity, preservation, and study? Send an email urging your members of Congress to support the ACCESS to Recordings Act. It is time to put an end to our antiquated copyright system and replace it with one that supports all stakeholders and the public’s right to rediscover our cultural heritage.

Send a letter urging your member of Congress to support the ACCESS to Recordings Act!


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