----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
> The CLIR- Council for Library and Information Resources has just published
> study on this very issue, framed by Tim Brooks and scut-worked by the
> undersigned.  I have a published copy and assume it is posted on their
> It's pretty scary, and will be followed by one on copyright law.
> They are a look at the facts and numbers as they are, not as any side
> them to be.
And there is another problem not addressed by this report!

The report opens by stating that you can access a 1906 book via most
public libraries, but not an 1890 recording, pointing out that the
book is in the public domain but not the recording. Very true, as it
goes...but keep in mind that neither the book nor the recording
have to be in the public domain to be accessible via a library!

It is possible in many...probably most...libraries to access books
and, often, periodicals, journals and archival material going back
decades or centuries. You cannot, of course, access every book ever
written, or every archival item...but you can access a fair amount
of historic data and often find out where and how to access even
more of it.

However, if you want to hear a sound recording more than a few
years old, the likelihood is that it will be effectively impossible!
This is even true here in Oshawa, Ontario, where sound recordings
issued before January 1, 1955 ARE in the public domain. They aren't,
however, accessible in our local libraries...or just about any
libraries with the exception of the National Library of Canada
(whose accessible holdings are pretty well limited to Canadian
content!). I have no real idea why this is...lack of interest
could be one important factor, of course. Worse yet, in most
cases there is NO way to access many historic recordings...
regardless of their copyright status. Right now, I'm sitting here
next to a milk box which probably has 25-30 Emerson records
from 1919-24, among other odds & ends...and out of that there
might be one, if any, that have ever been reissued or placed
on the Internet. The only way I can hear these is to play them!

And, if I burned them to a CD-R and offered that to my local
public library, I rather doubt if they would take me seriously...

Steven C. Barr