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Internet Sites on Copyright and Fair Use (ARSC Copyright Committee)

A concise summary table showing the copyright status of numerous types of works, including sound recordings. Compiled by Peter Hirtle of Cornell University.

Title 17 U.S. Code, the basic U.S. federal copyright law. Legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Copyright Term Extension Act are incorporated into Title 17. Important sections regarding sound recordings include 101 (definitions), 104 (foreign works), 107 (fair use), 108 (reproduction by libraries and archives), 301 (the "recording exemption," which places pre-1972 recordings under state law until 2067), and 302 (terms).

Copyright Office summary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which expanded copyright in numerous ways, including bringing certain public domain works back under copyright, and establishing restrictions on electronic and Internet uses of copyrighted material.

Text of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (1998), which extended copyright coverage for an additional twenty years.

Information and background on the DMCA and CETA from the Association of Research Libraries website, including a very readable primer on the events leading to their passage and their impact on the library community.

The Music Library Association's (MLA) "Copyright for Music Librarians" site.

A detailed look at copyright law as it affects classroom use and archives. Not about recordings specifically.

"Who Owns Pre-1972 Sound Recordings?" by Robert Clarida.

"Copyright Law and Audio Preservation" by Georgia K. Harper. Practical advice for archivists. Paper delivered at Sound Savings: Preserving Audio Collections, a conference held in Austin, Texas, in 2003.

"From Music Publishing to MP3: Music and Industry in the Twentieth Century" by Reebee Garofalo. A detailed article about the evolution of the U.S. music industry and the laws that affect it, from American Music, Fall 1999. A useful overview, despite some gaffes (which ARSC members will no doubt notice) in the section on the early recording industry.

Creative Commons, a vast online library of audio, visual and other materials that have been made available free to the public by their copyright holders. Included are links to several audio sites, including, which boasts more than 760,000 free recordings.

Web site of the Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford University Law School, which sponsors studies of and legal challenges to copyright law, particularly as regards the internet. Information on recent cases can be found here. The founder and director of the Center is Lawrence Lessig.

Homepage of Public Knowledge, a public interest organization advocating reform of current copyright laws, with up-to-date information on copyright legislation currently pending before Congress.

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Resources: Legal Resources (including copyright).

A private site with advice on how to research public domain songs and lyrics, including a list of reference books and links. Includes a rather simplistic page on recordings ("NONE PD until around 2067!!!").


A primer on British copyright law regarding recordings.

Text of the Canadian Copyright Act.

Useful summary of Canadian copyright law regarding recordings from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.


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