Deadline to Avoid Pre-1972 Sound Recording Statutory Damages Is Almost Here

By Lee G. Petro Embedded in the Music Modernization Act signed into law in 2018 was a provision that extended most federal copyright protections to pre-1972 sound recordings.  Prior to the enactment of the MMA, sound recordings made prior to February 15, 1972, may have been protected under state law, but federal copyright law protections did not apply. While the MMA extended federal copyright protections to this subset of sound recordings, it also included language that provided an opportunity for digital audio service providers (i.e., streamers and podcasters) that play pre-1972 songs to avoid statutory damages and payment of attorney’s fees should the provider be found to have infringed the artist’s copyright. On March 22, 2019, the Copyright Office adopted its final rule, requiring interested digital audio service providers to file a form with the Copyright Office providing contact information for the provider, and payment of a filing fee of $105 per…

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