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Expanding Preferential Treatment Under the Record Rental Amendment Beyond the Music Industry


Ryan G. Vacca


University of Akron School of Law

February 15, 2011

Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 11, p. 605, 2007
U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007

Abstract:     
In January 2007, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Brilliance Audio, Inc. v. Haights Cross Communications, Inc. and answered a lingering question concerning the Copyright Act that had persisted for over twenty years. The court decided whether the protections offered to the music industry under the poorly drafted Record Rental Amendment of 1984 also extended to audiobooks and other non-musical works. This Act deprives owners of items such as tapes and compact discs from renting those items to others without the consent of the copyright owners of the recorded song and the written lyrics and music - a right historically granted to consumers under the first sale doctrine. Ultimately, the court held that the special protections granted by the Record Rental Amendment were limited to the music industry. However, both the majority and vigorous dissenting opinions highlighted the differing interpretations of the Act's applicability and set the stage for a circuit split. This article first explores the text and historical developments of copyright law's first sale doctrine and the Record Rental Amendment and the Sixth Circuit's interpretation thereof. Next, it examines whether the Record Rental Amendment should be amended to include audiobooks and other non-musical works and ultimately suggests two alternative amendments Congress should adopt to resolve future conflicts and avoid a split amongst the circuits.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: record rental amendment, music, phonorecords, first sale doctrine, first sale, audiobook, sound recording

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K29, K39, O34, L82

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Date posted: April 17, 2007 ; Last revised: February 17, 2011

Suggested Citation

Vacca, Ryan G., Expanding Preferential Treatment Under the Record Rental Amendment Beyond the Music Industry (February 15, 2011). Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 11, p. 605, 2007; U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=968691

Contact Information

Ryan G. Vacca (Contact Author)
University of Akron School of Law ( email )
150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States
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