New copyright lawsuits and policies have hobbled teaching and research. Now scholars are pushing back. In a special report, the Chronicle of Higher Education covers the copyright wars from several angles:
The collection grew out of a love affair between a now-79-year-old German immigrant and the Mexican tunes he would hear on the radio in California and in cantinas every time he drove through the American Southwest. Chris Strachwitz was enamored by corridos, or narrative ballads. He combed record shops, distributors, jukebox companies, and even radio stations. Among the tunes he salvaged are recordings from small, regional labels that have dropped out of sight. Mr. Strachwitz donated his records to the Arhoolie Foundation, which he leads, and in 2001 the foundation started digitizing the songs with UCLA.
But the university is sharing only a fraction of that music with the world because it believes most of the collection is made up of orphans, still covered by copyright. Full access is restricted to computers connected to the campus network. Off-campus users can hear only 50-second snippets. UCLA chose that policy based on its reading of fair-use exceptions to copyright law, which may permit reproductions for teaching and research. Going further would introduce "a level of risk that, given the current status of copyright law, was really challenging," says Sharon E. Farb, associate university librarian for collection management and scholarly communication.
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