Friday, June 7, 2013

US Copyright Law and Sound Recordings

Did you know that there are no sound recordings in the United States that are considered to be in Public Domain? So many people assume that sound recordings work like sheet music and that anything before 1923 is automatically in Public Domain or subject to Fair Use provisions. At this time, it is not. There is a great article by Tim Brooks, "Only in America: The Unique Status of Sound Recordings under U.S. Copyright Law and How It Threatens our Audio Heritage," that gives an overview of US Copyright Law and how it pertains to audio recordings. Essentially, sound recordings are covered by state law, not federal, which is why the subject is so murky and involved.

There are websites that exist, like Free Music Archive, that try to provide Public Domain audio recordings by contacting the copyright owners of the items and obtaining permission from them. Then there are sites like the Internet Archive which are pushing the boundaries of what is public domain and what is not.They have a Live Music Archive that provides recordings of live shows by trade-friendly bands, for non-commercial use by fans. Of course, if the band does a cover, this gets into performance and mechanical rights issues, which then puts the users square into copyright infringement territory. They also archive thousands of historical sound recordings using creative commons licenses.

The biggest issue I see with the Internet Archive is that it puts the burden of copyright responsibility on the site user. Yes, it provides links to copyright information, but does not have a clearly defined page that lays out the information as it pertains to the Internet Archive site for the average user. Copyright law is difficult to understand, even for seasoned researchers, and people are uploading and assigning creative commons licenses to items they do not own or have permission for rights.

Is the current law on copyright for historical or orphan sound recordings fair or realistic? Absolutely not. There have been attempts to amend the current copyright law, most recently in 2011 with H.R. 2933. You can view more on what is being done on the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) webpage for their Copyright and Fair Use Committee, as well as their Latest Copyright Developments news page. There is also a petition you can sign to support releasing historical recordings into Public Domain, which is hosted by *FYI- this last website looks like it hasn't been updated since 2010, however it is suggested by ARSC and may still be active. Regardless, it has several informative studies and links on the subject of historical sound recordings and copyright.

I know this post is link heavy, but the issue is complex and I want to give my readers as much information as possible to understand music copyright and how it affects us all.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Radio Dismuke- 20s & 30s Streaming Music

I haven't posted about vintage music for a while, so here's a quick blurb about an online streaming radio station I discovered a while back called Radio Dismuke. They stream 20s & 30s popular music and I have discovered quite a bit of tunes to use for my hot jazz vocal trio Bootless Betties, that's for sure!

The man who runs it is incredibly knowledgeable about the music and has a discussion forum for 20s & 30s music lovers to communicate and post questions about the music (which he often answers himself). There is also a blog, although it is not updated very often. However, it has a listing of other resources for music of the same era so it is worth a look-see.

I listen to the station through Live365 (I find it is more work friendly). So to save you a step, you can click on the link below to take you directly to the Live365 station. FYI- click on the yellow play button to start the station and there is always a short commercial at the beginning. ENJOY!

For Radio Dismuke, 20s & 30s popular music, click here