Classical tape recordings from the 1950s and 1960s

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Classical tape recordings from the 1950s and 1960s

The Uninvited Co., Inc
Recently I have been on a geeky reel-to-reel tape kick and have picked
up a vintage tape recorder and some tapes on eBay.  It's a
manifestation of the sort of pointless vintage analog technology kink
that is impossible to explain.  Probably a result of the onset of
middle age.

During the 1950s and 1960s, tape was the premium media for audio.  It
was available in stereo format several years prior to the commercial
availability of stereo phonograph records, and did not suffer from pops
and scratches even when played and handled multiple times.  Prerecorded
tapes were marketed to audiophiles and other serious listeners as a
better-quality alternative to records.  Casual listeners of today would
notice no difference in quality between the best tape recordings of the
early 1960s and the CDs of today.

While I am unsure of the dates and exact details, it is my understanding
that recordings published prior to 1968 enjoyed copyright protection for
mechanical rights only, that is, the rights of the songwriter.  Music
for which mechanical rights were in the public domain at the time the
recording was published (which would include classical works of the
19th century and earlier) enjoyed no copyright protection.  Further,
during this era, a copyright notice was required and its absence on a
published work would be indicative of a release to the public domain.

I have in my hand a tape recording published by the Deutche Grammphon
Gesellschaft that was published in the USA during this era.  All of the
original packaging is intact and no copyright notice is present.  It
contains a collection of important sacred arias and choruses performed
by leading performers of the day, and the musical and audio quality is
beyond criticism.  I bought it for a few bucks on eBay.  There are many
other such recordings available on eBay and elsewhere, and they could
readily be converted to Ogg Vorbis and uploaded.  Their value both to
the public at large and to the articles they could illustrate is
tremendous.

Am I misreading the legal situation, or is this an opportunity which
interested volunteers should exploit to the extent feasible?

The Uninvited Co., Inc.
(a Delaware corporation)

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Re: Classical tape recordings from the 1950s and 1960s

Guy Chapman aka JzG
On Thu, 02 Nov 2006 21:16:34 -0700, "The Uninvited Co., Inc"
<[hidden email]> wrote:

>During the 1950s and 1960s, tape was the premium media for audio.  It
>was available in stereo format several years prior to the commercial
>availability of stereo phonograph records, and did not suffer from pops
>and scratches even when played and handled multiple times.  Prerecorded
>tapes were marketed to audiophiles and other serious listeners as a
>better-quality alternative to records.  Casual listeners of today would
>notice no difference in quality between the best tape recordings of the
>early 1960s and the CDs of today.

I have no idea about the copyright, but this reminded me of the "song
of reproduction" by Flanders and Swann - "I've an opera here that you
shan't escape / on miles and miles of recording tape..."

I will have to dust off tht Tandberg :-)

Guy (JzG)
--
http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JzG

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Re: Classical tape recordings from the 1950s and 1960s

Magnus Manske-2
In reply to this post by The Uninvited Co., Inc
On 11/3/06, The Uninvited Co., Inc <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have in my hand a tape recording published by the Deutche Grammphon
> Gesellschaft that was published in the USA during this era.  All of the
> original packaging is intact and no copyright notice is present.  It
> contains a collection of important sacred arias and choruses performed
> by leading performers of the day, and the musical and audio quality is
> beyond criticism.  I bought it for a few bucks on eBay.  There are many
> other such recordings available on eBay and elsewhere, and they could
> readily be converted to Ogg Vorbis and uploaded.  Their value both to
> the public at large and to the articles they could illustrate is
> tremendous.

While I don't know about the copyright situation, I am sure of one
thing: Eventually, your new tape player will break down, and the tapes
will go bad. Not soon, but think 20 years of use. If you were to make
copies to Ogg Vorbis (or maybe even FLAC, the Free Lossless Audio
Codec) and store them on CDs/DVDs, and maybe give a few trustworthy
people copies of these, digital copies will be available once the
copyright smokescreen clears.

Magnus
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