Copyright Office Proposes Rules Regarding the Noncommercial Use Exception to Unauthorized Uses of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

Title II of the Music Modernization Act sets out the requirements for someone other than the owner of the rights in a sound recording fixed before February 15, 1972, to make use of that recording for noncommercial purposes, including digital distribution on the internet. Those persons must file a notice of noncommercial use after conducting a good faith, reasonable search to determine whether the pre-1972 sound recording is being commercially exploited, and the rights owner of the sound recording must not object to the use within 90 days. On February 5, 2019, the U.S. Copyright Office proposed rules to set standards for what constitutes a good faith, reasonable search as to whether a pre-1972 sound recording is not being commercially exploited. This proposed rule would require taking, in most cases, a series of five steps to ensure that the work is not commercially exploited, but they do not require searching every single possible resource.

Comments on this proposed rule are due on March 7, 2019.

  • The Copyright Office site for Title II of the Music Modernization Act dealing with pre-1972 sound recordings is here.
  • The text of the proposed rule is here.
  • Submit electronic comments here.
  • Advocacy contact: Zvi Rosen at 202-205-6948.

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