I suspect record companies are tight-lipped because their lawyers tell them to be tight-lipped.
Insurance settlements often include non-disclosure agreements, for one thing. As to why that is,
you'll need to ask legal experts -- I suspect one of the reasons is to silence associated liability
claims by artists and other stake-holders. Basically, anyone can sue anyone with a shred of
information. Whether the suit holds up is another matter, but it costs money to defend it. Silence
is golden in these matters.
Another angle is, how would you feel if you were a living artist and you found out that some sort of
negligent act destroyed your master tapes? Even if you had no legal standing, you might raise a
ruckus and bloody the waters out of righteous indignation. Again, as far as the company that lost
master media in the disaster is concerned, silence is golden.
As someone interested enough in re-issuing somewhat obscure material as to take an active hand in
sheparding the process, it's frustrating to me not being able to find out if I'm on a fool's errand
with some material. It's not a good expenditure of time, credibility and "political capital"
agitating about material for which there is no longer usable master media -- the simple fact is that
the material cannot be reissued in a high-fidelity modern format no matter how much I might wish it
to be. So, if I know this in advance, I don't spin my wheels on it. To put it simply, everyone must
choose their battles, and it's better to fight for something that can be accomplished.
I can see all sides of this coin, but I do wish there was a better history of copyright owners
investing the time and the funds to safeguard their master media. As a fan of music, it definitely
boils my blood when I'm stuck with an old-fashioned, inferior-sounding version of something because
there is no more source material from which to do better. But, accidents happen and humans are
humans so I try to avoid blanket condemnations.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "David Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2015 11:20 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Disasters at Commercial Archives
> Again, from the world of film, the MGM vault fire of 1967. What made this
> especially depressing was that up to that point their
> silent film holdings were fairly complete.
> "London After Midnight" remains the most avidly sought silent feature film
> of all.
> According to James Card, there were three -- count 'em, three -- sizable
> vault fires at MOMA during Iris Barry's tenure as head, one
> taking away 2/3rds of the collection. They had a complete print of the
> Theda Bara "Cleopatra" (1917) which was last shown in 1953;
> today, only a 33-second outtake exists of this 3-hour epic.
> A 1965 fire wiped out the entire holdings of Westminster Films in
> California, a small producer of religious films. I helped to recover
> some unique prints of these films in Indiana in the early 2000s during an
> ARSC research grant that I was awarded.
> A 1963 fire destroyed the holdings, and put out of business, the LA-based
> firm of Tempo Records.
> Ditto a 1959 fire that "killed" the label 49th State in LA. Malcolm
> Rockwell would know more about that one than I do.
> Given all of the disasters befall archival holdings of media, I'm surprised
> that we have anything at all. But -- we have a lot, and there
> are still a lot of neglected collections out there. One thing that seems
> standard is that information about film-related disasters is more
> readily at hand than those affecting recorded sound, and I think that's due
> to the fact that film archivists are far more vocal about such
> matters than those concerned with audio. Anyone have an idea as to why we
> are so tight-lipped?
> David N. "Uncle Dave" Lewis
> Hamilton, OH
> On Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 9:51 PM, Frank Scott <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I seem to recall that the BBC were ready to destroy the original Monty
>> Python masters had not one of the Pythons stepped in to fund the cost of
>> Most famously they destroyed the January 1963 performance of the play
>> "Madhouse On Castle Street" which included a young Bob Dylan performing
>> four songs including what would have been the first television or radio
>> performance of "Blowin' In The Wind." The destruction was done in 1968,
>> long after Dylan had achieved worldwide fame!
>> Frank Scott
>> Roots & Rhythm
>> P.O. Box 837
>> El Cerrito, CA 94530, USA
>> [log in to unmask]
>> TOLL FREE: 888-ROOTS-66
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
>> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of CJB
>> Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 05:48 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Disasters at Commercial Archives
>> Of course there was the unmitigated disaster of the BBC junking many of
>> its archives including whole series of Doctor Who, to say nothing of
>> numerous comedy series such as Dads's Army. And their radio archives were
>> similarly junked, especially anything to do with the genre of 'folk.'
>> All of this was in the 1970s/80s/90s.
>> The Beeb even produced radio programmes about its lost archives.
>> The scandal is that many 'lost' programmes were home-taped by enthusiasts.
>> These are regularly found and offered back to the Beeb.
>> Most returns are declined unless they are commercially valuable such as
>> Clitheroe Kid, Navy Lark, etc.
>> So the programmes then start to appear on various torrent and usenet
>> sites. But then the uploaders are served with 'take down' notices - even if
>> the Beeb has refused acceptance of 'lost' recordings it doesn't itself have.
>> These websites explain more ...