was the first of a few of you to send in the recent news of how Universal Music had decided to donate over 200,000 master recordings
to the Library of Congress:
The American people, through the nation's library, will receive a post-holiday gift of vintage sound recordings from one of the world's largest recording companies. The Library of Congress and the Universal Music Group (UMG) announced today the donation of more than 200,000 historic master recordings--many long out-of-print or never released--to the Library's Recorded Sound Section, which has more than 3 million sound recordings in its collections.
Totaling in excess of 5,000 linear feet, UMG's gift is the largest single donation ever received by the Library's audio-visual division and the first major collection of studio master materials ever obtained by the nation's oldest cultural institution. Among the collection’s thousands of metal and lacquer discs and master mono tapes are released and unreleased versions of recordings by such seminal artists as Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, Billie Holiday, the Andrews Sisters, Connee Boswell, Jimmy Dorsey, the Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo, Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Waring, Judy Garland, and Dinah Washington, among others.
All of that sounds nice and surprisingly altruistic from an operation like Universal Music... until you read the fine print. That's because missing from the LoC's excited announcement is the fact that Universal Music retains the copyright
on the recordings, and is basically just handing off the physical archival costs to the American taxpayer. It will let the LoC stream the music -- which is better than nothing, but it's not nearly as impressive as actually donating the copyrights as well.