I just got a message today from the ARSC regarding a request for comment from the U.S. Federal Copyright Office on proposed changes to the U.S. Copyright Code that will standardize copyrights for much of our early recorded music. These changes will ease bars to access to these materials for not-for-profit archives and academic institutions and also open up the potential for reissue of a large body of orphaned and abandoned recordings:
Congress has directed the U.S. Copyright Office to conduct a study on the desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction. . . . The Copyright Office is launching its study by publishing a notice of inquiry in the Federal Register, requesting written comments from all interested parties regarding federal coverage of pre-1972 sound recordings.
The response period for the USCO survey runs through December 20, 2010. There is a long-form questionnaire available for professionals and others who want to take the time to respond fully, but you do not need to fill out the full survey to voice your opinion. The USCO is accepting responses of any length and format.
Please take a look and consider adding your support to this very beneficial proposed change to our copyright laws.
For large, well-funded institutions, traditionally the answer has been climate-controlled and monitored storage facilities, periodic sampling of materials, and duplication/transferal of aging assets to new media stock. Though, as this article shows, even some of the largest professionally run archives face major losses in aging and vulnerable media repositories.
Increasingly, high resolution digitization of media assets and file-based digital archival storage has also become a priority, if not the primary focus, of similar projects. However, while a digital archive offers many benefits to the institutions migrating to them, the cost in expertise and infrastructure of building and maintaining the IT systems required often seems out of reach for medium and small libraries and private archives.
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