Bill To Preserve Historical Films And Sound Recordings Sent To President For Signature

Legislation to preserve and restore American’s rich heritage in film and sound will be presented to the President to be signed into law after the Senate completed action on the legislation Tuesday night.  Championed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill would renew and expand original legislation enacted in 1996 to preserve some of the nation’s most valuable treasures.


The Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act was introduced in April by Cong. Robert Brady (D-Pa.).  The bill reauthorizes funding for the National Film Preservation Board and National Film Preservation Foundation.  The two organizations operate as part of the Library of Congress, and are charged with collecting, archiving and preserving films and sound recordings that are rapidly disappearing and deteriorating with time.  The bill allows for the preservation of early documentaries, silent-era films, avant-garde works, ethnic films, newsreels, and home movies that give important insight into American society and culture over the past century.  Moreover, these films and recordings are considered works that would likely not be preserved without public funding.  Private preservation efforts often focus on the sound features produced by major film studios in Hollywood.  The bill was introduced first in the House of Representatives, and Leahy worked to secure Senate passage of the bill Tuesday night.


“Film and sound recordings are an important part of American heritage that is literally disintegrating faster than it can be saved,” Leahy said after the Senate completed work on the legislation.  “Motion pictures provide an extraordinary record of our history, our dreams, and our aspiration.  We owe it to the Americans who made these films, Americans today and Americans of the future to make sure that this record is preserved.  I thank Representative Brady for introducing this legislation, and I am pleased that it has received the support of Congress.”


The loss of film and sound recordings has become an increasingly critical issue as more time passes.  Fewer than 20 percent of the features of the 1920s exist in complete form today and less than 10 percent of the features of the 1910s have survived the turn of the century.


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