Vinyl records legal deposit consultation
The Department appreciated the submissions received on the proposed inclusion of vinyl records within Legal Deposit. Consultation closed on 27 March.
About the submitters
In total, fourteen submissions were received by the Department of Internal Affairs. We asked respondents to identify which ‘stakeholder type’ they identify as when making a submission. Categories were provided based on the stakeholders we considered had an interest in a legal deposit notice (a Notice) for vinyl records. Figure 1 below shows how the fourteen respondents identified themselves.
Figure 1: Respondents by self-identified categories.
Eight of the fourteen submitters fall within the wider music recording industry. The remaining six can be seen as coming from the wider knowledge, culture and heritage sector. The majority of the respondents were individuals or small businesses. Two respondents are larger membership bodies with a large number of members: Recorded Music New Zealand and International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (New Zealand) Inc (IAML-NZ).
Purpose of consultation
In accordance with the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003 (the Act), the purpose of the consultation was to seek views on the terms and conditions of a legal deposit notice for vinyl records.
- Do you support a simple amendment to the definition of off-line document in the e-Docs Notice, which would mean that the same terms and conditions would apply, or do you consider that a separate Notice should be issued for vinyl sound recordings?
- Are there specific additional or modified terms and conditions that you consider are necessary, as they pertain uniquely to vinyl records?
- Do you know of a more future-proof definition for the format rather than “vinyl record” or “analogue recording”?
Question 1 – preferred approach for a vinyl Notice
Do you support a simple amendment to the definition of off-line document in the e-Docs Notice, which would mean that the same terms and conditions would apply, or do you consider that a separate Notice should be issued for vinyl sound recordings?
Twelve of the fourteen respondents answered this question. Figure 2 below shows the makeup of responses. Six respondents preferred the option of a simple amendment to the National Library Requirement (Electronic Documents) Notice 2006 (the e-Docs Notice). Three respondents favoured a separate Notice to be created and the remaining three preferred the status quo.
Figure 2: Preferred approach for a vinyl Notice.
Of the three record labels who made submissions, two wanted the status quo; the third did not respond to this question. Recorded Music New Zealand preferred an amendment to the e-Docs Notice but with specific conditions (see Question 2 – terms and conditions specific to vinyl). The library and museum sector respondents, which include IAML-NZ, all preferred an amendment to the e-Docs Notice, but again with specific conditions.
Question 3 – definition for the format
Do you know of a more future-proof definition for the format rather than “vinyl record” or “analogue recording”?
Six of the fourteen respondents answered this question.
There was a mix of suggestions, with some respondents feeling that vinyl record or analogue recording would be sufficient. One respondent suggested lathe cut, which they described as referring “to a one off original record cut to order, usually cut into polycarbonate plastic”. A suggestion was made to use the definition of “phonorecords” as defined in the United States’ Copyright Act 1976:
Material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Views on a notice
In accordance with section 36 of the Act, consultation sought views on the terms and conditions of a Notice for vinyl records. However, respondents also provided comments about whether they generally supported or opposed a Notice for vinyl records. While out of scope of the consultation, we summarize these views below and in Figure 3.
Figure 3: General views on a vinyl records Notice.
Five respondents did not support a Notice. Comments with this view ranged from the cost of producing vinyl, and the availability of digital formats.
Eight of the fourteen respondents gave their support for a vinyl records Notice. Comments with this view ranged from general support for the National Library’s collection and preservation of New Zealand’s cultural heritage, the fact that vinyl records are an important cultural record, and that the format of vinyl constitutes not only a recording of sounds, but also a multi-faceted physical record of technological production, provision and use.
One respondent did not have an express view.
Several common themes came through in respondent’s comments. One theme was the expense of producing vinyl records. A number of respondents noted that the production costs of vinyl are greater than other forms of music production. Closely related to that was the small size of many vinyl runs, with some respondents saying these were more akin to artworks than mass produced works. Some respondents noted that many works available on vinyl are also available as digital recordings, and suggested that collecting digital should be sufficient, but another respondent noted that some works are only available in vinyl.
Several respondents noted the importance of vinyl as part of New Zealand’s cultural record, and stressed that the cover art and notes contribute as much to that record as the sound recording. One respondent summed up the importance of vinyl as part of a heritage collection thus: “In sum, vinyl records constitute not only a recording of sounds, but also a multi-faceted physical record of technological production, provision and use. Its heritage value is not only the recording on it, but the entire physical thing”.
Department response to submissions themes
Expense of producing vinyl and short production runs
“Small quantity runs of vinyl/ analog releases are predominantly made or released by niche interest artists, and the economics involved are usually, at best, recovering the manufacture costs.”
“My own record label specialises in very limited edition LATHE CUT releases, typically between 20 and 40 copies”
In recognition of these views, we propose to incorporate into a vinyl records Notice the intent of section 5 of the National Library Requirement (Books and Periodicals) Notice 2004:
5 Requirement to provide copies of books
Every publisher of a book must, at the publisher's own expense, give to the National Librarian, within 20 working days after the date when the book is first published, copies of the book as follows:
(a) if the price of 1 copy of the book exceeds $1,000, 1 copy; or
(b) in any other case—
- if 100 or more copies of the book are published, 2 copies; or
- if fewer than 100 copies of a book are published, 1 copy.
When only one copy is required under legal deposit, it is the intention of the National Library to purchase at least one additional copy for its collections.
Collection of multiple formats
“Compulsory statutory Government acquisition without compensation of copies of small run releases is not a reasonable approach, particularly when the works can be archived in other formats, usually digital”
As several of the respondents noted, vinyl records are more than the sound recording, and the cover art and notes, often unique to the format, are as valuable to the record of New Zealand’s documentary heritage as the recording itself. Vinyl as a format is considered important as part of the story of New Zealand’s consumption of sound recordings in the 21st century.
Importance of vinyl as part of New Zealand’s documentary heritage
“Many emerging musicians are producing works on vinyl and digital only, excluding other physical formats. These must be collected for future enjoyment and research. As a large public library with o [sic] focus on our region's creative output, we hope that National Library would be ensuring the nation's creative output is collected and preserved.”
“Vinyl recordings are a repository of a major proportion of our public music archive. If they are not covered by compulsory deposit, we lose one of the most significant bodies of documentation of Australasian music history in existence.”
See the Department’s response to this above under ‘Collection of multiple formats’.
Vinyl as artworks
“Vinyl is made on limited runs and is more akin to artwork than music”
“My own record label specialises in very limited edition LATHE CUT releases, typically between 20 and 40 copies that are presented in a way more reminiscent of a numbered art print than a regular music release. All the covers are handmade and even occasionally hand painted.”
We agree that vinyl records may incorporate hand-drawn or other crafted material. The records are made available to the public and so form part of New Zealand’s published documentary heritage. On behalf of New Zealanders now and in the future, the National Library has a responsibility to collect, protect and make accessible our documentary heritage.
Retaining the integrity of recordings
“In sum, vinyl records constitute not only a recording of sounds, but also a multi-faceted physical record of technological production, provision and use. Its heritage value is not only the recording on it, but the entire physical thing. It has taken a while to recognise the materiality of library collections: for decades, older books were re-bound, destroying the marginalia that historians and literary scholars currently seek out for research.”
A key purpose of the National Library is to collect, preserve, protect and make accessible New Zealand’s documentary heritage, in both physical and digital formats. To ensure that a work is preserved and able to be accessed by future generations, under the National Library Act, the National Library is able to copy any work it has received under legal deposit. Such copying can include format shifting to better preserve the work. The original format as deposited with the Library will be retained, and in accordance with the Act, the National Library will not provide more than three copies for use by members of the public.