The United States and Japan have resolved a dispute over American sound recordings – from Duke Ellington to Elvis Presley – produced between 1946 and 1971. The recordings in question can earn copyright holders an estimated $500 million annually.
It has been estimated that approximately 6 million unauthorized recordings from the period are manufactured and sold annually in Japan, with none of the income flowing to U.S. rights holders.
Japan recently adopted amendments to its copyright law to protect recordings of the era. The new laws go into effect before the end of March.
Previously, only foreign recordings produced after Jan. 1, 1971, were protected under Japanese law.
The agreement, announced Friday by the U.S. Trade Representative, was reached under the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement procedures.
“We launched this case on a clear principle to protect intellectual property rights,” U.S. Trade Representative-designate Charlene Barshefsky said. “We sought – and will now obtain – protection for U.S. sound recordings from one of the most vibrant and popular periods in the history of American music.”
The resolution was heralded by the Recording Industry Assn. of America, which worked with the trade office on the new amendments.
The agreement affects many of the classics made famous by such American musical icons as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and Otis Redding.