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ARSCLIST  October 2005

ARSCLIST October 2005

Subject:

Re: Curatorial Responsibility, formerly Copyright of treasures

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 7 Oct 2005 06:25:06 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (153 lines)

That's a sad story about those Sams! Any of the tube audio stuff could be
sold for decent coin on ebay (not great coin but enough to justify getting
between them and a dumpster). Also the tube radios. TVs were disposable junk
from day 1 and I don't think anyone pines for earlier generations of TV sets
(particularly the tube models).

Sams still exists and lowers the hammer on anyone trying to make money from
selling copies of old schematics, although they have no leg to stand on if
someone sells the originals. I notice more and more copies cropping up on
eBay, so perhaps they've lowered their gaze somewhat. They are a prime
example of why I'd love to see the copyright law changed to where if
something is out of print a certain number of years, it is considered
"semi-PD" in that anyone can republish it but royalties must be paid. Some
sort of fair system would need to be worked out, and it would not be an easy
law to write. In Sams case, I'd love to see Howard Tremaine's "Audio
Cyclopedia" republished, either in digital form or in book form. These
things go for dozens or hundreds of dollars used, so there is still a
market. Sams also published Tremaine's seminal works on filter networks and
several books on speaker construction by the pioneers in that field. None
are in print anymore.

I believe the purpose of copyright is to make sure the creator of original
content gets paid for his efforts. It's not to allow someone to sit on
vaults full of information and acting as a self-appointed gateway to
knowledge. So, my idea would be that if something is locked in a vault (ie
out of print) for, say, 5 years (which, in today's world, should allow time
for all of the original product to move thru the retail system and put
full-price dollars in the original publisher's pockets), then it reverts to
a semi-PD where anyone can pay a (reasonable) fee to gain the materials
needed to republish it and then pay the copyright holder a royalty. The
royalty mechanism would be sort of akin to how ASCAP and BMI collect from
radio stations -- on a per-unit basis, with no minimum guarantees or other
barriers to small-shop cottage industries making this stuff available --
what the world needs now is WIDER knowledge from MORE sources. I think this
system would mostly be used by cottage industries republishing things in the
digital world, since it's still somewhat expensive to print, warehouse and
distribute books or even "hard-copy" compact discs or videos. I think the
law should also include "minimum quality" standards, so I can't take an
out-of-print CD, crunch it to MP3 and make money off selling inferior copies
of songs -- although Big Music is doing that right now via iTunes (a lot of
Verve jazz is only "in print" in inferior iTunes format and will never be
out on CD again). Under the system I envision, an out-of-print CD would have
to be reissued as 44.1/16-bit or better audio, unless a new arrangement was
made with the copyright holder (as is obviously done with iTunes). And if a
book is republished as PDF, for example, a requirement for readable photos
and illustrations (ie grayscale scanning) would be present. Perhaps also the
requirement that what was originally published in color must be republished
in color -- for both books and video. And, for video, what was originally
NTSC or PAL cannot be reissued as tiny-screen jumpy streaming digital
formats.

As for Sams schematics, I think it's just plain greedy for them to chase
people over this stuff. How many times do they need to make money on this
material? Of course this will never happen, but wouldn't it be wonderful if
the likes of Sams decided they'd make an online archive of all the classic
tube audio service folders in their library? Load up the site with ads for
your latest offerings, I bet you'd sell some. It would certainly create some
good feelings for very minimal cost since I'd bet Sams makes less from
actually selling $50 reprints than they pay to lawyers who chase small fry
sellers on eBay.

Now, on a related part of this thread, I'd like to weigh in against releasin
g music performances that are not approved by the artists. I've always been
against this practice of adding "out-takes" and "alternate takes" to CD
reissues (mainly just to juice up the total length of the disc). The artist
and producer decided those were inferior and left them off the album, in the
vast majority of cases. Sure, there are a few (not the majority) of cases
where LP length meant stuff needed to be left off, but mostly, these are
inferior versions or rehearsal-takes where the engineer was rolling tape so
as to set levels and balance. I think many an old jazz guy roll in their
graves regularly when these CDs are played. ANd even worse is the practice
of changing the original album's sequence. Those producers from ye olde days
knew what they were doing and those LPs flow very nicely, thanks. No need
for some modern revisionist to screw up the order of things so as to do
something dumb like line up the tunes in the order they were recorded (a
very common MO) or something more esoteric. Remember, this is music (ie
entertainment), not some scientific tome. When the only choice I have is an
out-of-order reissue that contains a bunch of cast-off takes, my first step
is to take the WAV's to my computer and assemble the original album, in
original order and without any of the cutting-room-floor stuff, and burn
myself a CD to enjoy. Yes, this is a very deep pet peeve of mine. I look at
this way -- artists still own their magic and that should be respected. What
they put on the original album, issued in their prime, was what they felt
was their best work at that time. I respect that and want to hear it as they
intended it.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----
From: "matt Sohn" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 11:28 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Curatorial Responsibility, formerly Copyright of
treasures


> > This brings up an interesting story. A friend and fellow music lover had
> > amassed decades of classical and opera record company catalogs. He
finally
> > ran out of space and remodelled his kitchen and decided to purge. He
> > graciously offered up the opportunity to get between this pile and a
> > dumpster. I figured it was worth at least seeing what was in the pile,
and
> > indeed I found a couple of catalogs of personal interest and kept them.
> The
> > rest, I couldn't bear to throw out. I kept them in my office, stubbing
my
> > toe on them frequently
>
> When I worked at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communication, we got
> offered a donation from the DeVry tech library of a complete set of SAMS
> repair manuals covering a 30-year period. The Museum wasn't interested,
but
> I took the woman's number, and contacted a number of libraries about
> acquiring them. Some were interested, but had no space or didn't want to
> deal with accessioning them. I ended up picking them up in my VW van (some
> 70 volumes, each one about 6 inches thick) and stored them in my brother's
> basement, hoping I could find a home for them. Eventually my brother got
> tired of all the boxes in his basement, and I had to get rid of them. I
> ended up dumping them at the Audio Technology Center of Columbia College,
> where I was a student, and they were locked away in a spare room. I'm sure
> hardly anyone was even aware that they were there, and a few years ago the
> facility moved to a new space, and I'm sure that the books didn't survive
> the move. I kept two volumes for keepsakes, but I'm sure the rest are
gone.
> These books were full of schematics for every variety of television set,
> radio and phonograph manufactured between 1948 and 1980,. The pictures of
> the units were beautiful. It's a shame.
> My father worked for several years with a film production company in
> California that specialized in short features for the educational market.
In
> the course of his work, he was sent 16 mm prints of several hundred
films.
> He never sent them back, and they sat in our basement for many years.
About
> ten years ago, my father, perhaps feeling a twinge of guilt, tried to
> contact the daughter of the man who he had worked with, who was now
running
> the company, to return the films. He got no reply to his inquiries, and
> ended up asking me to take care of them. I wanted to do a series of film
> showings at a friend's theater, but my dad vigorously objected, being
> paranoid about the copyright issue, so it never happened. I had nowhere to
> keep the films, so into my brother's basement they went (I have a very
> tolerant brother, he also stored my Ampex 300 for several years).
> Eventually, I had to move them out, and I donated them to Columbia
College's
> Film Department, where they now sit in a spare room, gathering dust, and
not
> being watched by anyone. At least they aren't in a dumpster. Yet.
> Life's tough isn't it?
>
> -Matt Sohn

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