Amoeba Music Could Be In Trouble Because Of Their Vinyl Vault?
I am a big fan of the store, and honestly, who isn’t in Los Angeles? I go there all the time for their tremendous record collection and their shows of course, Amoeba Music is a Californian treasure, and now the LA Weekly is reporting they could be in trouble because of some legal reasons over their Vinyl Vaults collection?
The Vinyl Vault is a section of their website, a unique ‘collection of digitized vinyl and 78s’, available for download exclusively on Amoeba website. This is the thing, for 6 years employees have been collecting interesting albums and they are now selling the songs digitally. Jim Henderson, co-owner of the stores explained to the Weekly:
‘We've been doing this a few years and in the course of buying stuff at our trade counter we've found some amazing vinyl artifacts that, [we've discovered] through our research, are not available digitally’.
If most of the material is licensed, the problem is that Henderson has admitted that some is not:
‘If we deem that it's not available digitally, then we try to make contact with the person who owns it. If the person who owns it is interested, we send them a copy of our Vinyl Vaults agreement, do a deal, and put their project up. Make a digital master of the record and clean it up. If we can't find the rights' holder, we have a decision to make — if it's something that we think we can put up and help expose to the world. If it's something that belongs to somebody, it says right there on our page that we will take it down or make a deal.’
It seems all right to me but I am no lawyer. They do it for the love of music, but could they end up being in trouble for copyright reasons? This situation, called ‘Orphan Works’, doesn’t please archival record label The Numero Group and it seems that not finding the copyright holder is not a good excuse for selling unlicensed mp3s, and this is precisely what they are doing.
Of course, Henderson explains they do it for the sake of art: ‘The core of who we are is ultimate appreciators of music, artists and the medium. This isn't something that's being tossed out there without thought, respect or regard for people's works. That is the goal, a push to get this stuff recognized’, but professor David Post, who teaches copyright law, thinks that Amoeba ‘should have legal preparedness’ as he is certain ‘they know this is coming’. Amoeba could get sued?? I certainly hope not.