User:Green Cardamom/recordings

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This is to solicit attention and help to the complex problem of copyright of sound recordings pre-1972, including pre-1923. There are currently about 160 sound recordings using the template {{PD-US-record}} including Featured content. There have been numerous discussions over the years here is a summary:

  1. This issue was brought up first (as far as I can tell) on the English Wikipedia at project page called Media copyright questions. It was discussed there between 2010-01-02 and 2010-01-04.
  2. Between 2010-01-04 and 2010-01-06 this issue was first brought to commons at the Village pump.
  3. It was then discussed at the talk page for commons licensing. This discussion ran from 2010-03-05 to 2010-03-23.
  4. It was brought up again in the same forum on 2010-06-11. This continued until 2010-07-01.
  5. It was discussed a third time at the talk page for commons licensing staring on 2010-11-01. This discussion lasted until the next day, 2010-11-02.
  6. Most recently the {{PD-US-record}} template was voted for deletion Dec 30 2013 to Feb 2 2014 and closed Keep without consensus to delete.
--(summary text by User:Zginder)

The paradoxical consensus of the above discussions is that 1) the current template is wrong and 2) there is no consensus to delete the template or recordings. So how do we fix the template? This Library of Congress document (thanks User:Stefan4) is a good (though long) introduction to this complex problem, and it appears to offer some legal strategies for using old sound recordings on Commons. I hope this thread can find some ways to adapt the LoC arguments (or other arguments) to Wiki policy. It may be we have to do so on a state-by-state basis (ie. 50 templates), in which case it might be less daunting to initially focus on a single state, such as New York (pgs. 71-84 in LoC doc). Or maybe we just need to worry about states where Wicommons servers are located (Florida, CA and VA?). I am not experienced with copyright law or Wikicommons so I'm hoping those more knowledgeable can help. We need talented legal help to translate between the LoC strategies (or some other) into a proposed Wikicommons license.

The hope and intention of this post is to brainstorm possible solutions not to continue argue for keep or delete, thanks. -- Green Cardamom (talk) 19:34, 6 February 2014 (UTC)



Hi Carl, I thought about raising this issue again at the Village Pump, but then spent some time reading prior discussions from 2010 and you seem by far the most versed on the subject and bringing it up again probably won't result in much new insight. It seems like your thinking is that we should not entirely disallow any recording pre-1972, but only those with no clear commercial value, since it is unlikely that a court would side with a claimant unless there was commercial value. A number of people have asked how do we determine if something is of commercial value, and the answer is "common sense". How do we codify "common sense" into the PD-US-Record template? Otherwise it will just keep coming up for deletion since it's currently so obviously wrong since the last close was "fix it" (ie. the next close will probably result in deletion if no fix is made).


  1. You suggested: "you could argue that, since pre-1972 recordings are PD-ineligible as far as U.S. federal copyright law is concerned, which would be the only copyright respected by other countries via international copyright agreements, that they are all "free" and Commons just needs to avoid breaking any other laws (and we could not host many commercial recordings for those reasons)." This seems like a simple single-template solution. Do you still agree?