I've been catching up on reading I've been meaning to do while traveling recently. I found the CLIR report on Copyright Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Pre-1972 Commercial Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives to be very interesting. Like discussions of copyright issues often must be, this report tends towards scenarios, likelihoods, and trends rather than absolute conclusions. I think that's OK. Even if there are no easy answers, knowing more about the issues involved is certainly beneficial.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this report is the discussion of how state copyright laws still affect audio preservation activities in libraries. The report's appendix summarizes state laws in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Virginia. Each of the states examined include language in the criminal statute cited by the report indicating that reproduction for profit or commercial gain is illegal. Some, but not all, include specific exemptions for educational or non-profit use (under which library preservation activities would presumably fall?), but all specifically say what's illegal is profiting from the copying. This is a very different tone than today's discussions of copyright issues, where intent rarely enters into the argument. I wasn't previously aware of this shift, and wonder if state laws such as these could help serve as models as federal copyright law undergoes future revison.