New domestic production

The simplest task of archives is to obtain new domestic production. The obvious way to get started is to buy copies of new recordings as they are issued, either from retail stores or directly from record companies. In most countries the annual cost of purchasing one or two copies of every new domestic recording issued is quite reasonable.

The main objection to this method is not its cost but the problem of obtaining a truly complete collection. In countries where there are many small record companies, or where some records for national consumption are manufactured abroad, it may be difficult to keep track of new releases. By the time the archives learn about the existence of a new recording it may already be sold out.

It is therefore better to establish direct contact with all record companies in your country. IFPI, the International Federation of Producers of Phonograms and Videograms, has recommended that its members donate sample copies of their production to national sound archives. This system of voluntary deposit has worked successfully in several countries. Of course the receiving institutions must be clearly designated and have national status. Record companies cannot be expected to distribute free copies to all and sundry.

However, this system has many of the drawbacks of purchasing records. In many countries there are small companies that are not members of national record industry organizations. It may be difficult, therefore, to establish contact with all record producers. For this reason many countries have introduced the system of the legal deposit of sound recordings.

The legal deposit of printed works has a history going back several centuries. In numerous countries printers and/or publishers are required to deposit copies of their publications in one or more libraries. In Finland, for instance, printers are required to deposit five copies of all books and periodicals printed; the copies go to the Helsinki University Library and four other University libraries in other parts of the country. Several countries have already extended legal deposit to include sound recordings. Such countries now number about 30, although it seems that in some cases the legal deposit of sound recordings is based on the registration of copyright and the recordings received are not always properly cared for.

The details of such legislation naturally vary from country to country. In some countries the legal deposit of sound recordings includes both domestic production and imports (records imported in some quantity for sale). In countries where legal deposit is connected with copyright, it usually involves only new production and not reissues. In Finland, record manufacturers (both record pressing and tape duplication companies) are legally required to deposit two copies of every record and cassette manufactured. In addition, record companies are obliged to deposit copies of Finnish recordings they have manufactured abroad. Foreign recordings are not included unless they are actually manufactured in Finland.

The legal deposit of sound recordings is, in most cases, the ideal method of building up a national collection of commercial recordings. The absence of such legislation need not, however, deter any country from starting a national record collection. Some of the finest record archives in the world have acquired their collections through voluntary deposit, purchase or a combination of the two.