December 11: Public comments due on noncommercial use of pre-1972 sound recordings

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December 11: Public comments due on noncommercial use of pre-1972 sound recordings

WikiMedia Commons mailing list
Apologies for the cross post, but wanted to share this with the community:

Hi everyone,

I wanted to let you know that the Copyright Office is seeking comments on rules that should make it easier for people to make noncommercial uses of pre-1972 sound recordings that aren't being commercially exploited.  

Comments were filed on November 26, and now there's an opportunity to respond to those comments by December 11.  

The Copyright Office is looking for public input on rules it must create under the Music Modernization Act (MMA), which was signed into law last month.  (We called attention to the threats that earlier versions MMA posed to the public domain; the passed compromise version contains provisions that actually improve the status quo in the public domain in some areas)

One part of the MMA lets a user make a noncommercial use of a sound recording made before 1972 if they make a "good faith, reasonable search" of Copyright Office databases and music services that offer a comprehensive set of sound recordings for sale or streaming. If the user doesn't find the work on those lists after their reasonable search, they can give notice to the Copyright Office and wait 90 days to see if a rightsholder comes forward and objects. If not, they can use the work.

The Copyright Office is writing the rules that define what a "good faith, reasonable search" is, and it has more specific questions in its initial notice. (here: Entities ranging from music industry groups to the Internet Archive have filed initial comments; (available here: responses to those are due on December 11.

The Wikimedia Foundation may file some short reply comments replying to some key points made in other submissions, or possibly join other organizations' comments, depending upon feedback. 

I'm posting this to the list because I thought it might be valuable for the Copyright Office to hear the perspective of community members who upload pre-1972 sound recordings to Wikimedia Commons, or make other non-commercial uses of the works.  Even if you're not likely to use this particular provision for Wikimedia Commons yourself (given the restrictions), it could be useful for them to understand what searching for sources and availability looks like to a typical user, and not necessarily someone in the music industry.  

You can make those perspectives known by filing comments at  Instructions on how to file in this proceeding from the Copyright Office are here:

Happy to answer any questions people might have.


Sherwin Siy
Senior Public Policy Manager
Wikimedia Foundation

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