Fan’s Rare Recordings Of Lost Beatles’ Performances Can’t Be Heard, Because Copyright Ruins Everything

from the copyright-gets-in-the-way-again dept

There’s a story in the Daily Mail that underlines why it is important for people to make copies. It concerns the re-surfacing of rare recordings of the Beatles:

In the summer of 1963, the BBC began a radio series called Pop Go The Beatles which went out at 5pm on Tuesdays on the Light Programme.

Each show featured the Beatles performing six or seven songs, recorded in advance but as live, in other words with no or minimal post-production.

The BBC had not thought it worth keeping the original recordings, even though they consisted of rarely heard material – mostly covers of old rock ‘n’ roll numbers. Fortunately, a young fan of the Beatles, Margaret Ashworth, used her father’s modified radio connected directly to a reel-to-reel tape recorder to make recordings of the radio shows, which meant they were almost of broadcast quality.

When the recording company EMI was putting together an album of material performed by the Beatles for the BBC, it was able to draw on these high-quality recordings, some of which were much better than the other surviving copies. In this case, it was just chance that Margaret Ashworth had made the tapes. The general message is that people shouldn’t do this, because “copyright”. There are other cases where historic cultural material would have been lost had people not made copies, regardless of what copyright law might say.

Margaret Ashworth thought it would be fun to put out the old programmes she had recorded on a Web site, for free, recreating the weekly schedules she had heard back in the 1960s. So she contacted the BBC for permission, but was told it would “not approve” the upload of her recordings to the Internet. As she writes:

after all these years, with the Beatles still extremely popular, it seems mean-spirited of the BBC not to allow these little time capsules to be broadcast, either by me or by the Corporation. I cannot believe there are copyright issues that cannot be solved.

Readers of this blog probably can.

Follow me @glynmoody on TwitterDiaspora, or Mastodon.

Originally published to the Walled Culture blog.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: bbc, emi

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Comments on “Fan’s Rare Recordings Of Lost Beatles’ Performances Can’t Be Heard, Because Copyright Ruins Everything”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I've started keeping copies...

Of any youtube content I’m a huge fan of, and also any livestreams I watch that I’m afraid will disappear forever afterward.

I’ve already been able to recover livestreams and other videos that have “disappeared” forever off the internet for fellow fans, but I only share them privately.

Some of us are out there archiving awesome copyrighted content that is disappearing just as quickly as it’s created.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

The BBC had not thought it worth keeping the original recordings

They did a lot of that back then. The Doctor Who episodes as noted are a big one. It’s pretty much thanks to Terry Jones (RIP) literally buying the tapes from the BBC that we have all of Monty Python’s Flying Circus today…

Andy J says:

Neither Fair Use nor Fair Dealing apply here

The Internet Archive suggestion is entirely sensible and legal. The same would apply to other archives dedicated to preserving cultural heritage. Section 75 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 specifically permits this:

“75 Recording of broadcast for archival purposes

(1) A recording of a broadcast or a copy of such a recording may be made for the purpose of being placed in an archive maintained by a body which is not established or conducted for profit without infringing any copyright in the broadcast or in any work included in it.

(2) To the extent that a term of a contract purports to prevent or restrict the doing of any act which, by virtue of this section, would not infringe copyright, that term is unenforceable.”

Incidentally, Section 70 of the same Act makes the home recording itself legal. However this section does not allow the recording to be exploited, even for free, by the home user.

Ken says:

How long copyright lasts

The uk gov website says copyright in broadcasts lasts for 50 years from first broadcast. The original broadcast is out of copyright. Funnily enough wouldn’t there be a case for Margaret Ashworth to claim copyright for recording of the broadcast, the rights for which will last longer than the original broadcast, seventy years due to the extension some time ago?

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