Records, mp3s, and preservation (and copyright)

records by Jack Emerson Garland
records, a photo by Jack Emerson Garland on Flickr.

This weekend, while organizing my records and putting them into Discogs, I had an epiphany — “Digital piracy can be a form of preservation. The ultimate LOCKSS.” The distribution isn’t organized, but it definitely helps preserve the “long tail”. Once something is on the internet, it’s very difficult to lose it.

This morning I stumbled across this piece about vinyl records, mp3s, and preservation questions. Basically, from an archivist’s perspective, vinyl and other analog musical formats aren’t great for long term preservation, especially compared to digital formats. Again, piracy saves the day!

Then something else happened this weekend… I watched this Beatles live performance from 1966 and remembered that they’re alright. No, I still don’t think they’re the best thing ever or deserve all of the praise, adulation, and obsession they’ve received, but they’re good and significant. Then I remembered the bootlegs they released last year on iTunes (of course it’s iTunes!) as a response to changes in EU copyright. (One cynical Guardian reader summed it up: “Another income source for McCartney, lovely.”) So the Beatles, such as they are now, get to retain copyright on those recordings another 20 year but had to publish/sunlight them in the process. Well, they’re out now. And thanks to certain torrenting sites, they’re not going away anytime soon. Preservation to the masses!

2 thoughts on “Records, mp3s, and preservation (and copyright)

  1. They clearly still have an iron hand over some of their output, though–until a few weeks ago, you could watch the entirety of the Rooftop Concert from 1969 on YouTube, but it’s since been pulled. You can still see a few of the tracks individually, but the whole thing doesn’t seem to exist anywhere, not even for ready money. (At least not since I last looked, which was also a few weeks ago–things change quickly.) That show in Germany is pretty great.

  2. I completely get your point, yet in the long term, how is that going to be “preserved” exactly? These songs and videos are being passed on throughout the years, though how can we be sure that they will still be there in about 100 years?

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