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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 2, Number 1 (2002)

The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992: A Digital Dead Duck, or Finally Coming Home to Roost? 

Geoffrey Hull

Middle Tennessee State University


From the 1970s through the early 1990s, American consumers’ habit of copying audio recordings for private use increased. To address this fast-growing trend, Congress enacted The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA). AHRA’s authors designed the act to serve the economic interests of digital audio hardware and blank media manufacturers, and create a means of fairly compensating music copyright owners whose works were being copied as a result of said hardware and media being introduced into the marketplace. AHRA’s critics found components of the act inherently flawed, namely the limited number of devices and media to which it applied (as evidenced by the RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc. case). This fact, coupled with market factors such as the decline of the cassette tape, proved problematic to AHRA’s provision of a sales-based royalty payable by manufacturers of applicable devices and media to music copyright owners. The rising pervasiveness of CDs, CD-Rs, CD players, and CD recorders that followed, however, proves AHRA can be an adequate instrument of compromise between the music and technology industries, and of great benefit to music consumers, if adapted as the author recommends for the new media.

Keywords: Audio Home Recording Act, AHRA, cassette tape, blank tape tax, tape levy, Compact disc, blank CD, CD-R, CD players, DAT, Mini-disc, consumer electronics, digital music, intellectual property, music copyright law, music technology, Serial Copy Management System, SCMS, Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, performing rights, performing rights organizations, music piracy

Hull, Geoffrey. “The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992: A Digital Dead Duck, or Finally Coming Home to Roost?" Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 2, no. 1 (2002): 76-112. https://doi.org/10.25101/2.4

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