Supporters (who include SAM) passed a major hurdle yesterday as the Music Modernization Act (MMA), which includes provisions dealing with pre-72 recordings that we fought for, passed the Senate. It now goes back to the House, and then the White House, for final approval (which is likely).
SAM member and copyright activist Tim Brooks reports that there are good and not-so-good provisions, but overall deems it a HUGE advance.
Establishes a true public domain (all uses) for recordings for the first time. Initially this will be for pre-1923 recordings, but later it will include later years as well.
Applies federal preservation exceptions and exemptions (Sec 107, 108) to all pre-72 recordings.
Includes provisions to allow non-profit streaming of recordings which are verified to be out-of-print. This is a start on "orphan works."
State law is preempted, ending the "patchwork quilt" of state laws that has so hindered archivists.
Pre-23s will enter the public domain only after a three-year "transition period," i.e. December 2021.
Later recordings get even longer "transition periods" tacked on to their nominal 95 year term. 1923-1946 recordings will have an effective copyright term of 100 years (95+5), and 1947-1956 recordings a 110 year term (95+15). Recordings made between 1957-1972 will go into the p.d. in 2067, as previously. Those periods are a long way off, however, and perhaps the battle for another day will be to soften these provisions at some point in the future.
Eric Harbeson has been an enormous help in these negotiations, watching out for the interests of archivists. In addition, enormous credit should go to our allies Public Knowledge and the Internet Archive, and to Senator Wyden (OR) who took up this cause and, as a senator, was able to make it happen. He was bitterly attacked for doing so. We should invite him to the 2019 conference!
So now we wait for House concurrence and having it signed into law. It's not over till it's over.
110 years - horrific, Byzantine. The U.S. is really in the dark ages, apparently kept there by forces interested primarily in short-range interest-group benefits. "Provisions potentially softened by uncertain future measures?". Sure, given the present agreement one can imagine how long in the future they might be. Highly informative would be an article in the Bulletin detailing the named groups involved in negotiations and their arguments.