There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet recently about the EU’s plans to extend the term of recorded music copyright, which I mentioned last year. The Open Rights Group has created the following cartoon video to explain what the plans are and why they’re bad. I think the number of statistics (and jumps from euros to pounds) confuses the explanation somewhat, but it’s still well worth watching.
Tony Hirst of OUseful.info made an interesting observation about the whole affair: the record companies have built their whole business model around exploiting an ever-growing copyrighted back catalogue, and they’re scared of watching this reliable income stream evaporate, especially given the growth in illegal music copying made ever simpler by technological developments.
Unfortunately, the (recorded) music companies don’t seem to allow much in the way of fair or non-commercial use. For example Tame The Web recently reported that a parody of Madonna’s Ray of Light publicising a library on Youtube had been taken down. The library in question tried to do the right thing and contacted Warner Brothers to request permission to use the song, but ‘no one would give them the time of day’. If the companies won’t help people who are trying to do the right thing (see also DRM which is thankfully dying off), people are inevitably going to start wondering why they should bother even trying. I should point out now that I write this in a personal capacity, and in my job I do take copyright infringement seriously and stop anyone I catch in the act!
Incidentally, I make a distinction between recorded music companies and printed music publishers because some of the latter are a little more enlightened, e.g. giving permission when asked for students to photocopy a piece for the purposes of examination as long as they’re destroyed afterwards (examiners usually need a copy of the sheet music to refer to during the performance, and sheet music isn’t covered by any academic copying licences).
Finally, I thought this was a good time to re-blog this excellent video explaining copyright law using Disney film clips, because Disney has been the driving force behind multiple US term extensions (we can’t have Mickey Mouse in the public domain, can we?).
Gramophone.net has launched a free full-text archive of the Gramophone magazine going right back to its launch in 1923. Gramophone’s a UK-based classical music publication best known (in my opinion) for its recording reviews: helpful for researching the reception of performances at the time they were made, as well as on a practical level for music librarians who purchase recordings for their libraries!
The new archive isn’t particularly flashy but does the job: anyone can search and read the full text of articles (captured using OCR so there’s occasional glitches), and if you register (free) you can also download PDFs of pages. Weirdly each PDF is a two-page spread rather than a specific article, so that’s a little inflexible, but it’s still really useful for seeing the layout of pages, ads, etc. Another benefit of registration is that you can save a list of interesting articles with a feature called ‘My Archive’, which I haven’t tried out yet. Interestingly registered users can also comment on any article – I look forward to seeing how much this feature is used and whether it leads to discussions between users and possibly a sense of community on the site.
Incidentally, without a subscription I seem to be able to access all but the two most recent issues which is more than I expected; there’s a space on the registration form to enter a subscriber number so I assume subscribers can view the most recent issues too. I’m hoping to get my library set up with an account soon to try this out and enable our current staff and students to view all articles online.
I’m really impressed that Gramophone has done this, and it’d be great if other magazines/journals followed suit.
I’ve been keeping myself busy so far this year, thanks to my informal resolution to undertake a Flickr 365 project jointly with my husband (we’re alternating taking a picture a day), and I’ve combined this with a resolution to increase my personal blogging (as opposed to ‘work’ blogging which you’re reading now!). I should really make a third resolution to post here more often, but I think it’d be more sensible just to pledge to update here more regularly rather than more frequently. I’ll aim to write more short posts about interesting music-library-related-news as I think that’ll help the whole thing feel less daunting…
Also, if anyone knows of other music librarian blogs I’d love to be pointed towards them both for inspiration and fostering a sense of community – I’ve only found offline networks of music librarians up to now.