Court says DMCA not intended to apply to pre-72 recordings. Does this impact webcasters?

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Issue Date: 
Apr 24 2013 - 12:35pm

From Issue:

A New York appeals court has ruled that the "safe harbor" provisions of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act do not extend to recordings made before 1972.

The ruling came in an appeal from Universal Music Group of a lower court decision which favored online music service Grooveshark. The service claimed (and was validated, at least at first) that it wasn't liable for user-uploaded pre-1972 sound recordings, as it was protected by the DMCA's "safe harbor" rules (read more here).

However, it's the DMCA which establishes and governs the way digital services (e.g. online radio) pay for the public performance of copyright sound recordings. Might this ruling call into question whether the law truly covers webcasters' use of pre-1972 recordings?

Digital Music News quotes the decision: "The statutory language at issue involves two equally clear and compelling Congressional priorities: to promote the existence of intellectual property on the Internet, and to insulate pre-1972 sound recordings from federal regulation... it is not unreasonable, based on the statutory language and the context in which the DMCA was enacted, to reconcile the two by concluding that Congress intended for the DMCA only to apply to post-1972 works."

We're looking forward to learning whether this decision has any impact on Internet radio. Read Digital Music News coverage here.

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