Monday, June 6, 2011

Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recordings

As we discussed last week, one of the important rights owned by certain artists is the right to public performances. This right does not generally apply to sound recordings. Congress remedied this somewhat in 1995 with its enactment of the Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recordings Act. This act provides for a limited right for owners of copyrighted sound recordings to preclude public performance of their works by means of digital audio transmission. This right was provided because of concern that digital performance would affect sales of records and compact discs. The right is, as noted, quite limited. For example,
- it does not apply to over the air radio or television broadcasts or rebroadcasts.
- it does not extend to digital transmissions of audiovisual works.
- it does not apply to digital performances of audio recordings that are not transmissions, such as playing a compact disc in a restaurant or bar.

The principal application of this limited right is against audio demand- type services, which enable a consumer to request and receive a digital transmission of a particular sound recording at any time. These services were deemed to be a great threat to the sale of audio recordings.

Tomorrow,we will discuss the compulsory licensing provisions that also effect the right to public performance.

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