Audio News

Audio News for September 21, 2012

Universal’s Donation to Library of Congress, cont.; Controversies on Appropriate Compensation for Copyright Infringement; Chinese Mobile Market; Increase in Home Recording Studios

Published on September 21, 2012

Universal’s Donation to Library of Congress, cont. – We reported earlier on the donation of a huge library of recordings from Universal Music to the Library of Congress. Here’s more: Universal wanted to unload it because they had been paying for storage of this material for half a century in a facility in Pennsylvania, and it hadn’t been touched since first issued. The majority of the donations are negative metal masters, about 200,000, with ridges instead of grooves, requiring a special needle to play. There are also close to 10,000 reels of tape and maybe 15,000 lacquer discs, which were used in the studios before the adoption of open reel tape. The metal masters for pressings were created from these lacquers. 90% of it is not commercially viable. In fact, the Library did a study that revealed only 14% of the music recorded between the beginning of recorded sound and 1960 is commercially available to the general public today. Universal retains the copyright to the recordings and will get digital copies from the preservation department at the Library of Congress. The Library has collaborated with Sony-BMG to offer The National Jukebox. Check out its many free historical recordings here. Most of these recordings have been off the sonic landscape of America for a long time.

Controversies on Appropriate Compensation for Copyright Infringement – Joel Tenenbaum, who was accused of downloading and sharing 31 MP3 files, was fined $675,000 in 2007. The case has been thru various courts, some ruling it was excessive and others upholding the fine. Actually, it is considered at the low end of the range for willful infringement of the Copyright Act.  But U.S. copyright claims tend to be astronomical. In Sweden, for example, infringers are fined the equivalent of about $7 a track. Tenenbaum is continuing to appeal.

Chinese Mobile Market – This isn’t really audio, but interesting facts: China’s mobile market is 917 million subscribers! All the mobile companies are state owned, and they have high levels of quality and service. Users tend to turn in their phones for the latest technology every 18-20 months, which means an opportunity for Apple’s new iPhone 5. Apple already has 39% of the China market and hopes to get a lot more.

Increase in Home Recording Studios – About 5000 businesses identify themselves as audio production studios, but it is difficult to know what portion are home studios because much of the business is done in private. The “democratization” of the industry has come about because of advances in the technology, including computer software, which have made it much less expensive and easier to record music of high quality. Also, as labels have slashed budgets demand has grown for cheaper recording options.




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