This is a cultural preservation vs. copyright issue. It is a matter of
what is ethically right vs. legally right. It involves balancing
interests of access with economic interests. At present, the balance is
strongly in favor of protecting any possible, even tiny, economic
interest to the exclusion of anything else, even to the point that
cultural content (and cultural memory) is destroyed by not being carried
forward or being (legally) available. (Prohibition makes an interesting
Similar problems apply to other forms of recorded media, e.g. the 'tape
traders' of now off-the-air TV shows that have never been released on
DVD (or even on VHS). PBS/CPB/CTW children's shows from 1970s and 1980s
come to mind in particular.
Many tape traders would be happy to buy official full season collections
of the shows they are trading, but they can't at any price. (Well,
presumably if tape traders could throw tens to hundreds of millions of
dollars at the producers for every show, maybe re-releases could
happen. The tape traders don't have these resources, and neither do the
It is not at all clear that a show's producers still even have copies of
the originals, and even if they do have copies, they don't have the
manpower or have not seen there to be enough economic benefit to release
When all is said and done, future generations of media historians and
media archaeologists may depend almost entirely on what was at the time
unauthorized copies and duplications made by enthusiasts that used
whatever tools they could to preserve text, audio, video, and software;
tools that may have removed copy protection like Macrovision or DRM in
its many forms allowing the (unauthorized) preservation to take place.
(Note: unauthorized distribution of widely available unrestricted
content is in a different quadrant of the ethical vs. legal grid. Where
a piece of particular content lies within this grid can change as time
Karl Miller wrote:
> --- On Fri, 8/27/10, G.E. Norick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: G.E. Norick <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Ph.D. needs educating (copyright)
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Friday, August 27, 2010, 11:20 PM
> I happen to know who you are referring to, and I think y'all just need to
> leave him alone.
> He is doing an invaluable service for connoisseurs of this type of music
> It is painfully clear that the record companies don't care about this
> music, I can tell this by the lack of good legitimate CDs of most of it.
> While I don't know the particular site being discussed, I can only guess that the market is so small that the copyright owner does not see any economic incentiveto make the material available on CD. In one of the publications Steve mentioned, one that I reviewed for the ARSC Bulletin, it was mention that only a very small percentage of early recordings have been reissued.
> Then what of what interests me, non-commercial or broadcast recordings?
> As a long time collector of a fairly esoteric aspect of recorded music, (Symphonic works of the 20th Century), and as one who will retire shortly, I wondered what will happen to my collection. None of the libraries I contacted, including the one where I was archivist, had any interest. And, upon reflection, why would I want to donate to a library? The collection would likely sit in a basement and not be cataloged or reformatted. Even if it were, you would likely have to go to the library to hear it...not my idea of reasonable access.
> Having my own record company, Pierian, I thought about issuing some of this "pirate" material (old broadcasts). To see if there would be a market for such material, I posted to three email lists, the URLs for my uploads of the Symphonies of Daniel Gregory Mason, conducted by the likes of Bruno Walter and John Barbirolli. Out of approximately 3,000 total list members I had about 75 downloads. You can't even give it away. But for those 75 who did download those symphonies, I would like to think that hearing that music will have great meaning.
> Yet, even more to my point, is the question of access. Say you were doing research on those symphonies. You can't find any recording listed in OCLC. What does that say about access, research and scholarship. Should libraries join those email lists and start downloading? Should libraries be buying all of those "pirate" CDs? For me, the answer is obvious.
> I believe, the US copyrights are as ill-conceived as was prohibition.