Bloated Copyright Laws Will Make Sure America’s Rich Musical Heritage Is Forgotten Forever

This guest post is by Voyno at The New Rockstar Philosophy.

image from www.flickr.com The Library Congress has just released a report about the problems it's facing with the digital music world, writes Ars Technica. In the report, officially titled The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age, it's written that "Significance is too often recognized and conferred only after the passage of years. We do not have the luxury of waiting until the significance of a sound recording is apparent before its preservation." With the billions of new bedroom Garageband projects that appear every month and the temporary throw away nature of digital music, many of these projects may never be properly archived.

In addition, the Library Congress has also faced difficulties with an unrealistic copyright law that was created before the age of digital music ubiquity. Currently if the law is followed to the letter it would brand virtually all audio preservation as illegal. Combine that with the lack of will from copyright owners, results in culturally significant music that simply goes out of print.

Ten percent or less of listed recordings have been made available by rights holders for most periods prior to World War II. For periods before 1920, the percentage approaches zero. One study found that, out of thousands of recordings produced between 1890 and 1964, rights holders have only made available 14 percent of the historic recordings that they control.

Ragtime, Vaudeville, folk, and of course Jazz music were all styles that were developing in exciting new ways during the early 20th century. And because Clive Davis wants to retain his copyright on Santana's new album to 2067 it may all be lost. The report goes on to conclude that:

"Copyright reform is not the sole area in which congressional action is needed, but it remains the key solution to preserving America’s recorded sound history, protecting ownership rights, and providing public access."

Let's hope everyone gets their heads straight and realizes that music is for people not profits.

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1 Comment

  1. The concept of “music in the cloud” just does not fix the problem of archiving. My own experience as a music lover and to some extent, as a collector, shows that too, because several CDs that I have bought from artist websites around 10 to 8 years ago just seem to have completely disappeared off the face of the internet, as they have run out of print and promotion. And musically, they are good albums even. They are not even being discussed by a circle of fans on message boards. Somehow I get the idea that some possible catalogue revenue is being lost right there because some “lost” albums could regain momentum at any time once on a whim, people start talking about them on the web. I’ve seen that happen before on some fan message board for a CD by a related group that saw a relatively limited release in the pre-internet days. With most indie albums now seemingly being digital releases only, at one click of a mouse they can be discontinued and removed from the download store, never to be heard from again even when there are really great musicians playing on it, maybe handing over their tiny bit of market share to the next product of the majors that’s promoted in a really big way.
    Maybe this is not the time to think twice about buying an indie album or not.

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