musical, spoken, or other sounds that have been fixed in tangible form. The copyrightable work comprises the aggregation of sounds and not the tangible medium of fixation. Thus, “sound recordings” as copyrightable subject matter are distinguished from “phonorecords” the latter being physical objects in which sounds are fixed. They are also distinguished from any copyrighted literary, dramatic, or musical works that may be reproduced on a “phonorecord.”
As a class of subject matter, sound recordings are clearly within the scope of the “writings of an author” capable of protection under the Constitution, and the extension of limited statutory protection to them was too long delayed. Aside from cases in which sounds are fixed by some purely mechanical means without originality of any kind, the copyright protection that would prevent the reproduction and distribution of unauthorized phonorecords of sound recordings is clearly justified.
The copyrightable elements in a sound recording will usually, though not always, involve “authorship” both on the part of the performers whose performance is captured and on the part of the record producer responsible for setting up the recording session, capturing and electronically processing the sounds, and compiling and editing them to make the final sound recording. There may,however, be cases where the record producer’s contribution is so minimal that the performance is the only copyrightable element in the work, and there may be cases (for example, recordings of birdcalls, sounds of racing cars, et cetera) where only the record producer’s contribution is copyrightable.
Sound tracks of motion pictures, long a nebulous area in America copyright law, are specifically included in the definition of “motion pictures,” and excluded in the definition of “sound recordings.” To be a “motion picture," as defined, requires three elements: (1) a series of images, (2) the capability of showing the images in certain successive order, and (3) an impression of motion when the images are thus shown. Coupled with the basic requirements of original authorship and fixation in tangible form, this definition encompasses a wide range of cinematographic works embodied in films, tapes, video disks, and other media. However, it would not include: (1) unauthorized fixations of live performances or telecasts, (2) live telecasts that are not fixed simultaneously. with their transmission, or (3) filmstrips and slidesets which, although consisting of a series of images intended to be shown in succession, are not capable of conveying an impression of motion.
On the other hand, the bill equates audiovisual materials such as filmstrips, slide sets, and sets of tranparencies with “motion pictures” rather than with “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.” Their sequential showing is closer to a “performance” than to a “display,” and the definition of “audiovisual works,” which applies also to “motion pictures,” embraces works consisting of a series of related images that are by their nature, intended for showing by means of projectors or other devices.
Nature of copyright
Copyright does not preclude others from using the ideas or information revealed by the author’s work. It pertains to the literary musical, graphic, or artistic form in which the author expressed intellectual concepts. Section 102(b) makes clear that copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of opera-