Copyright law may extend to classics from 50s and 60s

When a favorite song comes on the radio, most people in New York turn it up and enjoy it without thinking about the royalties the artist or songwriter may be receiving from it. In fact, many pay for satellite radio or use apps like Pandora to hear more of the songs they enjoy most. Some of the more popular stations play songs from decades past, such as the 60s, 70s and 80s. However, copyright law does not protect the music created in all of these eras.

In fact, it has only been 50 years since laws began protecting sound recordings at all. At that time, legislation passed giving copyright protection to any music recordings produced after 1972. Recently, however, lawmakers, in cooperation with the Recording Industry Association of America, have begun considering legislation to extend that protection to songs recorded in the 50s and 60s. These songs enjoy a popularity of their own on various streaming and satellite platforms.

In the past, artists and their record labels have used lawsuits against Sirius XM and other platforms to try to obtain royalties from their music. Some surviving musicians from the 50s and 60s struggle financially because they receive no royalties, even though their songs were monster hits at the time of their release. Dionne Warwick and Mary Wilson of The Supremes frequently speak openly of the unfairness of current law.

As copyright law continues to evolve, artists often must fight for the protection they deserve. Laws protecting intellectual property are meant to encourage further creativity as well as allowing artists to profit from their own efforts. Those in New York who are facing a fight for the protection of their rights under copyright law can find guidance with the help of an experienced attorney.

Source: Variety, "Senators Introduce Bill to Extend Copyright to Classic Recordings", Ted Johnson, Feb. 7, 2018

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