Association for Recorded Sound Collections

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The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings. Established in 1966, members include record collectors, discographers, and audio engineers, together with librarians, curators, archivists, and researchers.[1]


ARSC was founded in 1966 by a group of academics, primarily music librarians. By design, it was not limited to professionals working with sound recordings, but welcomed record collectors and music researchers; furthermore, it was intended to bring together collectors from all genres, classical, jazz, popular, etc., as well as those concerned with spoken word recordings. The first ARSC publication was the Preliminary Directory of Sound Recording Collections in the United States and Canada, in 1967, and ARSC Journal followed soon after. In 1983, ARSC published The Rigler-Deutsch Index, a microfilm index of 78 rpm discs.[2]

Annual conference[edit]

ARSC has held an annual conference each year since 1967. It generally takes place between April and June in a city in the United States, though two conferences have taken place in Canada and one in London. Several conferences have been held jointly with the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA)[3] Typically, there are two session tracks, one focusing on artists and repertoire, musical genres, collecting, and discographies, the other on technical issues of audio preservation and restoration, library cataloging issues, the history of recorded sound, etc.[4][5]


The ARSC Journal is a peer-reviewed journal that has been in existence since 1967. Currently published semi-annually, it “serves to document the history of sound recording and includes original articles on many aspects of research and preservation: biography; cataloging; copyright law; current research; discography; technical aspects of sound restoration, etc., etc.” It also includes reviews of books and sound recordings, as well as an ongoing bibliography of articles of interest that have appeared in other journals. [6] The ARSC Newsletter is published three times a year. [7]


ARSC presents a number of Awards for Excellence “to authors and publishers of books, articles, or recording liner notes, to recognize outstanding published research in the field of recorded sound.” Each year, a Lifetime Achievement Award is presented for recorded sound research and publication, and an Award for Distinguished Service to Historical Recordings is presented for other contributions to the field. [8]


The Research Grants Program supports the research involving audio preservation and sound recordings, including discographies and historical studies of the sound recording industry. The Preservation of Classical Music Historical Recordings Grants Program supports “the preservation of historically significant sound recordings of Western Art Music.” ARSC also provides Travel Grants for the annual conference.[9]

Email discussion list[edit]

ARSClist is an unmoderated email discussion list sponsored by ARSC. Subscription is open to members and to the archival community at large. [10]


Copyright and Fair Use[edit]

Since 2005, the Copyright and Fair Use Committee has led the organization in advocating for changes in U.S. copyright laws covering sound recordings. Currently, there are no sound recordings in the public domain. Recordings made after 1972 are covered by Federal copyright laws; pre-1972 recordings remain under state laws until 2067 (assuming that copyright term will not be extended again). Making copies of recordings is a violation of copyright law; therefore, libraries and archives may not legally be able to perform necessary preservation work. [11] “For example, current law limits duplication to materials that are already damaged or deteriorating (sec. 108(c)), which virtually assures sonically deficient archive copies; and limits archives to no more than three backup copies, which does not take into account the need for distributed copies, mirror sites, and backups in order to responsibly maintain digital repositories of files created in a preservation environment.” [12] ARSC also favors changes in copyright law related to orphan works.[13] The Copyright and Fair Use Committee keeps members informed of news related to sound recording copyright and fair use issues.[14]


The Technical Committee focuses on audio technology, providing guidance to institutions and audio professionals in preserving and maintaining access to sound recordings. [15]


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  2. ^ Tim Brooks, "ARSC: Association For Recorded Sound collections -- An Unusual Organization",Goldmine, February, 1983, pp. 22-33.
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  11. ^ Tim Brooks, "The Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the Movement to Reform Copyright in the United States," Popular Music and Society, Volume 35, Issue 5, 2012, pp. 683-689.
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  13. ^ Tim Brooks, "The Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the Movement to Reform Copyright in the United States," Popular Music and Society, Volume 35, Issue 5, 2012, pp. 683-689.
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External links[edit]