Based on definitions according to 17 U.S.C. § 101 (archived):

"Phonorecords" are material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "phonorecords" includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.

"Sound recordings" are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied.

1 Answer 1


It’s a sound recording that has a physical existence

That might be a CD, a hard drive (whether on a local computer or a server in the cloud), a cassette, a vinyl record, or anything else that does, did or may in the future be possible.

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    besides the mentioned, Shellac, wax cylinders, audio on a magnetic tape roll and for the love of god: punchcards are known to be used to record audio.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 12:24

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