Your client is probably referring to the bizarre decision last year from a US District Court in California. A judge decided that remastering a pre-1972 recording essentially created a new work, copyrightable by the remastering engineer. This article provides an analysis and contains a link to the decision itself:

As far as I know, this decision hasn't been tested by an appeals court yet, but I can't imagine that it will stand for very long. Still, I can't blame your client for being worried.


All opinions personal, no representation of LC policy, etc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Louis Hone
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 11:46 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Copyright ownership

I just finished audio restoration for a client who recorded an LP 60 years ago. He owns the original copyright and all the rights (including
publishing) associated with this LP. I digitized the vinyl, did the appropriate cleaning up with RX5, and a bit of mastering to top it off.
Sounds good, everybody is happy.

However at the end of the project, the client was adamant that I sign him a "release" stating that I was not the owner of this new digitized version of his LP. He had read somewhere that if a recording that is out of copyright, is digitized and cleaned up and rereleased, then the person or company doing this restoration is now the owner of the copyright.

I have been doing audio restoration for 20 years now and that is a first for me. Yes I did sign the release (otherwise he wasn't paying me).

Anyone else have that situation ?