The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 added chapter 10, "Digital Audio Recording Devices and Media,"† to Title 17 of the US Copyright Code. This act affirmed that personal home taping is legal, or at least that one cannot suffer suit for it, and protected consumers from suit for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings for noncommercial use.

The Audio Home Recording Act was significantly altered by the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The US Copyright Office provides a helpful summary‡ of the DMCA and its impact on copyright law.


HRRC'S (Home Recording Rights Coalition) Summary of THE AUDIO HOME RECORDING ACT
(Title 17, Chapter 10, of the U.S. Code)

On October 28, 1992, President Bush signed the Audio Home Recording Act into law. The Act, an historic compromise between the consumer electronics and music industries, became effective immediately.

After more than a decade of dispute and uncertainty about home audio taping and the introduction of new digital audio recording technologies, the Audio Home Recording Act paves the way for new music formats. Under the Act, we can all share in the benefits of new recording technologies. Most important, the Act confirms consumers' right to use--and retailers' right to sell--all analog and digital audio recording formats. As part of this compromise, digital audio recording devices must include a system that prohibits serial copying, and manufacturers or importers must pay a modest royalty on new digital audio recording devices and media.

Here's a brief summary of the law's key provisions:

Vindication of consumers' right to tape: (Section 1008) No copyright infringement lawsuit may be brought based on consumers' noncommercial use of digital or analog recording devices to copy prerecorded music. No copyright lawsuit may be based on the manufacture, importation, distribution, or sale of digital or analog recording devices or media. Amen.

Incorporation of serial copy controls: (Section 1002) Digital audio recording devices must contain one of the following:
(1) The Serial Copy Management System (SCMS), which permits first-generation digital-to-digital copies of prerecorded music and other audio works, but prohibits multi-generation or "serial" copies of those copies (SCMS is implemented in DAT, MD and DCC recorders already on the market);
(2) A system with the same functional characteristics as SCMS, and which acts compatibly on the same copyright and generation status information as used by SCMS; or
(3) Any other system certified by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as prohibiting unauthorized serial copying. Devices or services to circumvent the SCMS or any other serial copy control system may not be distributed.

Obligation to make royalty payments: (Sections 1003 to 1004)
U.S. manufacturers and importers must make payments as follows:
for digital audio recording devices, 2% of the wholesale price, with a floor of $1 royalty payment per device and a ceiling of $8 per device (except for functionally integrated units containing more than one digital audio recording device, which have a $12 cap).
for digital audio recording media, 3% of the wholesale price.

Only the first person to manufacture and distribute or to import and distribute must pay the royalty. The law does not impose any royalty on consumers or retailers.

What devices are subject to the SCMS and royalty requirements? (Section 1001)

The Act applies only to "digital audio recording devices," defined as devices that are designed or marketed primarily for making digital audio recordings for private use (whether or not incorporated in some other device).

The following devices are not generally subject to SCMS or royalty requirements:
-- professional model products;
-- dictation machines, answering machines, and other audio recording equipment designed and marketed primarily for non-musical recording;
-- analog audio recording devices or media;
-- personal computers; and
-- VCRs and camcorders used primarily for video recording.

How the royalty program works: (Sections 1005 to 1007)
Royalty payments are administered by the Register of Copyrights and the Librarian of Congress. Royalty payments from digital audio recording technology are divided into two funds:
-- two-thirds into a Sound Recordings Fund, with small percentages of this fund earmarked for nonfeatured artists and backup musicians, 40% of the remainder for featured artists, and the rest to record companies;
- - one-third into a Musical Works Fund, to be split 50/50 between songwriters and music publishers.

To receive royalty payments, interested copyright parties must file a claim with the Librarian of Congress. Royalties will be distributed based on record sales and airplay during the relevant period.

For more information, contact the Home Recording Rights Coalition at:, or 1-800-282-TAPE
The above text is ©HRRC 2000.
See also, for the HRRC, and for the Audio Home Recording Act.

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