Thanks very much!
a. We're dealing entirely with recordings from Russia/Eastern Europe here––primarily amateur/underground/experimental in nature. They were, therefore, never on sale, and offered freely for distribution online in the past or given to me by the artists themselves. Not sure if that changes anything.
The average life of a webpage in Russia/China is 70-75 days (in the West it's 90-ish), so this material is simultaneously/theoretically "everywhere" online, yet three months later it could vanish and be nowhere at all. I see arguments, therefore, both in favor of the works' ubiquity and their rarity. It depends how soon one goes looking after the release date!
Q#1. Can one apply First Sale Doctrine to stuff that was never sold?
Q#2. The upshot, if I understand correctly, is that digital collections cannot be assigned a monetary value when offered to libraries and/or museums?
b. Independent evaluation has already been done, but yes––I agree that the value of any such research always depends upon its reception by the IRS. They, as the singular audience, decide on the validity of any amount. An evaluation is an educated guess.
Additional factors to consider in that same process of assessment are the worth of the collection as a *whole*, its intellectual merit, archival promise, quality of metadata, likelihood of public usage, etc.
c. Your Canadian example is very helpful. A free-to-use artifact has no first sale. And is therefore exempt from copyright, which brings us back to my Question #1 above. But doesn't copyright endure, *irrespective* of an artifact's place inside or outside the market?
I'm very grateful for your expert opinion here.