I think it's a serious mistake to compromise the intellectual
property rights of professional musicians by placing their
performances on the Internet without their knowledge or permission.
It would seem like there is a subjective difference between
distributing field recordings of traditional singers performing
material from the oral tradition like the ones in the Hunter
collection and recordings of professionals who earn a portion of
their livelihoods from sales of their recordings, and who depend upon
the quality of their recordings to generate new gigs.
In many cases, the San Diego Festival recordings might be
less-than-perfect performances or compositions that the musicians
might not want in circulation. It's simply wrong to assume that
"most, if not all of the performers will be happy to see their work
of 30 or 40 years ago come to light for public enjoyment and
scholarly research," especially if they do not receive any
compensation. Putting these recordings on the Net without permission
is little more than theft of intellectual property.
As archivists, I believe we have an obligation to respect the rights
of the performers. We should never place recordings of living
performers into general distribution without the specific permission
of those performers. As soon as something is on a public Internet
site, we (and the performers) lose control of any subsequent distribution.
There's at least one case in which a performance from the San Diego
Folk Festival found its way to an LP without the knowledge or
approval of the performer. The producers of the LP (at KPBS-FM)
assumed that their broadcast release was adequate to distribute their
recordings, but the singer (who was also composer of the song in
question) didn't know about it until he found a copy of the LP. And
of course, Murphy's Law meant that it was a song that he did not want
Here at Northwest Folklife, we are making festival and concert
recordings available to researchers and the public in listening
stations, but we will not place the actual recordings online. We
evaluate requests for copies form bona fide researchers on a
At 10/5/2005 10:38 AM, Russ Hamm wrote:
>Our expectation is that most, if not all of the performers will be
>happy to see their work of 30 or 40 years ago come to light for
>public enjoyment and scholarly research. We shall see whether any
>'cease and desist' orders result.
>Unfortunately, a lot of material like this resides in archives that
>are difficult to access. Our model that we would aim for is that of
>the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection at Missouri State University
>(http://www.missouristate.edu/folksong/maxhunter/). Here anyone can
>access the entire sound collection in several different formats, as
>well as complete text of song words and musical notation! Check out
>their statement about copyright -
>statement essentially acknowledges the rights of the original
>performers and encourages respect and consideration on the part of
>those who access the archive - but places the burden on the user to
>not violate commonsense considerations.