Those 78s Will Sell Big Again?

September 21, 2023

The Internet Archive (IA) is a wonderful repository of digital informational, but it is a controversial organization about respecting copyright laws. After battling a landmark case against book publishers, the IA is now facing another lawsuit as reported in the post, “Internet Archive Responds To Recording Industry Lawsuit Targeting Obsolete Media.” Sony, Universal Music Group, and other large record labels are suing the IA and others for the Great 78 Project.

The Great 78 Project’s goal is to preserve, research, discover, and share 78 rpm records that are 70-120 years old. Librarians, archivists, and sound engineers combined their resources to preserve the archaic, analog medium and provide free public access. The preserved recordings are used for researching teaching at museums, universities, and more:

“Statement from Brewster Kahle, digital librarian of the Internet Archive:When people want to listen to music they go to Spotify. When people want to study 78rpm sound recordings as they were originally created, they go to libraries like the Internet Archive. Both are needed. There shouldn’t be conflict here.’”

Preserving an old yet appreciated medium is worthwhile and a labor of love. IA’s blog post fails to explain the details behind the lawsuit or defend the Great 78 Project other than restating its purpose. The IA should share the details about how the record companies are concerned about copyrighted material but many of the recordings are now in the public domain. The Great 78 Project should continue but the record companies should work with the preservation team instead of fighting them in court.

Whitney Grace, September 21, 2023


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