Reports and Studies

U.S. copyright policy often begins with formal studies conducted by the government in which data are collected and differing points of view are considered. The studies, which frequently involve public roundtable discussions and solicitation of public comments, normally culminate in the publication of a formal report to be considered by Congress or the relevant rulemaking agency. Listed here are some of the more important reports for music libraries. In addition, links are provided to formal comments submitted by the Music Library Association.

Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

75 Federal Register 212 (November 3, 2010) p. 67777

In 2009, the U.S. Copyright Office was directed by Congress to conduct a study on the feasibility of granting federal copyright protection to sound recordings made prior to 1972. Nearly all sound recordings created in the United States prior to February 15, 1972 are protected by state common and statutory laws. This particular body of sound recordings will not be protected by federal copyright law until the year 2067. The U.S. Copyright Office posted a notice of inquiry in November 2010 requesting comments in regards to preservation and access for the public as well as economic implications for rights holders if these recordings were to be protected by federal copyright law.

The Music Library Association submitted comments to the Copyright Office’s initial notice of inquiry in late 2010, submitted reply comments in April 2011, and has also participated in the public meetings in June of 2011.

Initial notice of inquiry from the Copyright Office
Music Library Association’s initial comments
Music Library Associations reply comments
Public meeting transcripts for June 2, 2011 and June 3, 2011

For a quick overview of the issues surrounding Pre-1972 Sound Recordings, please visit the Historical Recording Coalition for Access and Preservation (HRCAP)’s Frequently Asked Questions.

See also: 17 USC §301 (c)

Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies

75 Federal Register 143 (July 20, 2010) p. 43839

James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, granted 6 more exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with the publication of this statement. Quoted below is the first exemption regarding “Motion Pictures on DVDs” which is likely of most interest to music librarians:

(1) Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:

(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;

      (ii) Documentary filmmaking;
      (iii) Noncommercial videos. (U.S. Copyright Office, Anticircumvention Rulemaking.)


The links below provide access to the entire report on the Librarian of Congress’ rulemaking in the Federal Register along with comments submitted by the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) / Music Library Association (MLA).

Complete text (U.S. Copyright Office)
LCA/MLA initial comments in PDF (U.S. Copyright Office)
LCA/MLA response comments in PDF (U.S. Copyright Office)
See also: 17 USC §1201

The Section 108 Study Group Report: An Independent Report Sponsored by the United States Copyright Office and the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress

Washington, DC: United States Copyright Office, 2008

The 1976 copyright revision included new exemptions to copyright for libraries and archives, and those exemptions are contained in Section 108 of the copyright code. In 2005, the Copyright Office and the Library of Congress convened a group of copyright experts, representing the many stakeholders in copyright, which were assigned the task of making recommendations on the revision and updating of Section 108. The 212 page report presents their recommendations along with discussion of both the points on which they were able to agree, and those which they weren’t. Their recommendations include:

  • Expansion of the eligibility requirements to include museums,
  • Allowance of libraries, museums and archives (LMAs) to outsource copying under 108,
  • Updating of the “three copy limit,” and addition of the existence of a “usable copy” as a restriction,
  • Expansion of preservation copying exemptions, while further defining the conditions,
  • Allowance for preservation of web pages, and
  • Allowance for streaming television news programs.

Complete report in PDF (Library of Congress)
Executive summary in PDF (Library of Congress)
MLA testimony on 108 and (c) in PDF (U.S. Copyright Office)
MLA Testimony on 108(d), (e) and (i) in PDF (U.S. Copyright Office)

See also: 17 USC §108

Report on Orphan Works: A Report of the Registrar of Copyrights

Washington, DC: United States Copyright Office, 2006

An orphan work is a work which remains under copyright but for which the copyright owners cannot be found, making permission to make use of the work unobtainable. At the urging of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Register of Copyrights undertook a study of the problem. This report, which benefited from three public roundtable discussions and hundreds of public comments, contains the Register’s recommendations for legislative solutions to the problem. The report recommends requirements for attribution and a “reasonably diligent search.” Once those requirements are met, the user would gain a safe harbor where liability would reduced to a “reasonable monetary compensation” (which would exclude statutory damages), and limited injunctive relief.

Complete report in PDF (U.S. Copyright Office)
Orphan Works (U.S. Copyright Office) (contains links to public comments, transcripts and current legislation)

Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies

71 Federal Register 227 (November 27, 2006) p. 68472

James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, granted 6 exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with the publication of this statement. While there are no exemptions for fair use, the exemptions do, in some cases, affect the provisions in 108. The report includes explanations of the reasoning behind the decisions, both for the exemptions granted as well for the many requested exemptions which were denied.

Complete text (U.S. Copyright Office)
LCA/MLA comments in PDF (U.S. Copyright Office)

See also: 17 USC §1201

DMCA Section 104 Report: A report of the Registrar of Copyrights pursuant to 104 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Washington, DC: United States Copyright Office, 2001

The DMCA included a provision directing the Register of Copyrights and the Assistant Secretary for Communications to evaluate the law upon passage. This report reflects the Copyright office抯 evaluation of the law with regard to concerns raised during a period of public comment. Concerns over fair use are addressed and guidelines offered in several specific situations including temporary copies and buffer copies created during streaming of a work, and the impact of the DMCA on activities which otherwise would be privileged as fair use.

Complete text (U.S. Copyright Office)

The Conference on Fair Use: Final report to the commissioner on the conclusion of the Conference on Fair Use

Washington, DC: United States Patent and Trademark Office, November 1998

The Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) report represents the work of more than 100 organizations with interests in Fair Use. Of particular importance in this report are the proposals for Fair Use guidelines (pp. 33-61), which respond to questions concerning digital images (Appendix H), distance learning (Appendix I) and multimedia Appendix J). The proposals focus on educational use only, and were agreed to by all members of the CONFU steering committee. Though they do not carry force of law, they are valuable in decision making and in demonstrating good faith efforts.

Compete text in PDF (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)