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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: Copyright Extension Rejected In UK

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Thu, 26 Jul 2007 12:47:27 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Dismuke <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
   
  ***In the long run, one cannot put the
technological genie back into the bottle. Short of
the collapse of entire civilizations, I cannot think
of a single instance where any such attempt has been
successful.
   
  I believe that there have been many attempts to do so. While the genie might be out of the bottle, that will not keep people from trying to force the genie back into the bottle.
   
  The genie is not always benevolent. When television became a product for the masses, the profit motivation required that the lowest common denominator would reign supreme. That is why, without going into the pros and cons of it all, I see the internet as a great tool for the democratization of our culture. Unfortunately the internet is controlled by the search engines which, for the moment, seem relatively benevolent...and of course, if there is a way to make a buck, someone will find it.
   
  ***I also think that, in ways well beyond recorded music,
the recent technological advances spell the inevitable
end of mass media pop culture as we have known it
throughout all of our lives. Under a mass media pop
culture, trends were determined by finding a widest
(which frequently means lowest) common denominator.
Because of lower costs, niches of all varieties
imaginable will prosper where before they wouldn't
have stood a chance. And, because of it, even
narrower niches will develop including niches that
never even existed before.
   
  My crystal ball isn't all that clear when I ask it these sorts of questions. I would agree that the niche market has more of a chance, but I think that the mass market is tied into some of the fundamentals of human nature.
   
  For me, this is also true of the preservation biz. I see wonderful opportunites for libraries to develop their own niche collections, and indeed, some do. But instead, library trends, with the exception of some high level, highly selective collections, are towards the lowest common denominator. But then, one could reasonably argue that they are a "technology" that, with the exception of those highly selective collections, is on its way out.

While there might be some wonderful possibilites, somehow I don't see much of our recorded history being available online. True, there are some magnificent exceptions, the cylinder project being at the top of my list, but it is, from my perspective, the longevity of the copyrights that inhibits not only the availablility of our recorded heritage, but its preservation as well.
   
  I do believe that there are some possible new business models open to help things along. What would it be like if a major label would let someone digitize what interested them and then give them a percentage of the sale for that item. Of course we might have a lot of unemployed lawyers...I believe that any library or archive that digitizes (and I am thinking an archival quality transfer/restoration) something could make that recording available to the copyright owner (assuming they could find the copyright owner) and get a percentage of the online sale. I also believe the major labels should consider donating recordings that they think will not have any commercial potential, copyrights included, to non-profit institutions interested in audio preservation. The non-profits can get grants to do the work, and it is all tax deductible. The record company could also get a big deduction for donating.
   
  I think about things like, why should a non-profit archive, get a donation (and be able to give a donor a tax write off) to preserve the recording collection of a performing organization when that organization owns the rights to the recordings. In a sense, that tax exempt status is being used to preserve the revenue potential of another organization.
   
  I wonder that if we had a 50 year copyright on sound recordings, we might have a google audio digitization project...It seems that we talk of music as being just a business...if so, are we not in the business of ideas...and if so, why should our copyrights last any longer than our patents?
   
  Karl

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