When the public domain works: Naxos Historic Recordings

I have an unreasonable affection for Naxos recordings.

One of the series they have is a historical collection. They take 78RPM records that have fallen into the public domain (in the UK, where they're based) and remaster them on CD. They're doing the same thing that the Internet Archive does with their 78 RPM collection.

Unfortunately there are a few kinks with this. The biggest is that these recordings are still under some form of nebulous copyright in the USA, so they are harder to find over here (though not impossible). But Naxos won't sell them to you in the USA.

The other is that they put their standard "All Rights Reserved" on the recording. I find that disingenuous.

What's interesting too is seeing the labels that recorded these recordings do the same thing. It's interesting to see how Naxos' engineers do things differently from RCA's engineers. Same 78RPM recording but slightly different results.

But this is one instance where I find the public domain is working the way it was intended. And I applaud efforts like the Internet Archive 78RPM project for compiling recordings that have long since been out of print or are in versions that are different from the ones we have today.


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