Digital Preservation and Copyright

We’re struggling with the question of what to do with our collection of vinyl recordings. They’re deteriorating, and we’re finding it increasingly difficult to keep the playback equipment in working order — the record needles seem to disappear. We’re re-purchased much of our collection on CD, but some items — this one might be one of them — are impossible to find on CD.

So we’re considering digital preservation, capturing the audio of the records and scanning the dust jackets. I’m no lawyer, but it looks like Section 108 of the copyright code allows us to make preservation copies of works that are or were originally in our collection, but are damaged, deteriorating, lost, stolen, or if the existing format of the work has become obsolete. (It’s a little easier to read Cornell Law School‘s version.)

Subsection C appears to specifically allow digital preservation under the following conditions:

  • the library or archives has, after a reasonable effort, determined that an unused replacement cannot be obtained at a fair price; and
  • any such copy or phonorecord that is reproduced in digital format is not made available to the public in that format outside the premises of the library or archives in lawful possession of such copy.