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1909 Piano Rolls & the Compulsory License

An interesting article from The Public Domain website about Congressional hearings on the 1909 Copyright Act. http://www.thepublicdomain.org/2009/07/17/were-we-smarter-100-years-ago/
My comments:
An important point of clarification is in order here. The piano rolls were not “sound recordings”. They were mechanical reproductions of compositions. The argument was that you couldn’t “read” a piano roll as you could “read” sheet music. Therefore the rolls weren’t “writings” protected by statute. The compulsory license was instituted to balance out the concerns of both sides. Sound recordings were not copyrightable in the United States until February 15, 1972. They were however protected under state property laws. - - MJD

A property in rights

A property in rights


James Madison is considered one of the greatest political thinkers of his time and the father of US Copyright. He articulated a simple, yet novel idea – first published in The National Gazette in 1792, which is carved on the walls of the Copyright Office.
 “As a man is said to have a right to his property; he may be equally said to have a property in his rights”
What does this mean?  
Just as a person has the right to buy and sell tangible property, will it to his heirs, earn a living from it, and even let it fall into decay, he has the same rights for intangible property, such as copyright.    - - MJD