President Donald Trump, on Oct. 11, signed into law the CLASSICS Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, that will ensure that recording artists from the pre-1972 music eras are fairly compensated when their music is played digitally.
A new provision will allow libraries and archives to make reproductions of recordings from this era that are not being commercially exploited to ensure that there are no barriers to preserving and protecting America’s early musical legacy. The legislation was incorporated as Title II, the Classics Protection and Access Act, of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act.
For historical reasons, sound recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972, are governed by state, not federal, law. And, in recent years, this oddity has led to disputes as to the scope of state law rights when sound recordings are performed by digital music services. The act will correct that oddity by bringing those pre-1972 sound recordings into the federal system, thus requiring that allowing the artists and owners of such recordings are compensated when their music is digitally transmitted.
In addition to Coons and Kennedy, the act is co-sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Bob Corker, R-Tennessee; and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.
“The music performed and recorded by artists before Feb. 15, 1972, is an important part of our shared cultural heritage. It’s the music many of us listened to growing up on records and cassettes, and it simply is not fair that when we listen to that music today on digital platforms, those legacy artists do not have to be compensated even though their modern counterparts must,” said Coons. “I’m extremely pleased that the president signed this legislation to fix this long-standing disparity, and I thank the many different segments of the music industry that have worked hard to achieve this consensus solution.”