Good piece by Rep. Darrell Issa in Variety on bringing pre-1972 recordings out of the Dark Ages.
Here's the problem that would be remedied by passage of a proposed law called the CLASSICS Act as described by Rep Issa:
"When a musician records a song today, federal law grants a copyright in the “sound recording” itself — the captured version of the performance, separate and apart from the notes and lyrics. But thanks to an inexplicable gap in federal copyright law, the recordings by musical greats like John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and others before February 15, 1972 aren’t given the same copyright protections as their modern peers. In recent years, disputes have arisen as to what these rights should consist of — creating significant uncertainty for artists, record labels, and music distributors alike."
Congressman Issa's piece is worth a look.