So what IS the difference?
"Why do so many digital remasters of great analog recording sound so dreadful?"
Primarily because the digital copy is often not of a “great analog recording” master, but typically of a third or fourth generation back up copy which does not possess the quality of sound of the actual master. Most consumers do not care/notice and it was not worth the labels’ effort to track down the original. There are some additional issues, such as what EQ and compression do you want to use (LP’s are heavily compressed and EQ’d to meet the limitations of the medium, etc.).
On a separate issue:
Please do not encourage people to rip their albums and to then sell the original LP’s. They do not have the right to do this.
When you buy an LP or CD you have purchased only that individual copy. You have not purchased the right to make a copy and sell it. (Whether you sell the digital copy or the LP copy is the same act of piracy; you owned one copy, made an illicit copy and sold one.)
While you similarly do not have the right to make make backup copies or copies for the car/MP3 player, many copyright holders have publicly stated they have no objection to this as long as you legally own and retain the original.
Go ahead and rip your LP to put a digital copy on your server. Do not sell the LP however unless you delete the copy. Likewise, do not copy a CD and then sell it.
Also you may not learn books (e.g. lyrics) by heart, because doing so you effectively make an illegal copy of a copyrighted product. As a result, the illegal copy carrier must be destroyed.
OK, despite the somewhat biploar responses maybe there is be SOME middle ground here…perhaps.
First of all ELK may indeed be right about selling ALL those original albums, SACD from SACD rips, and other assorted bootlegs because then you are really on the other side of the track, if you unload all of them and keep copies. But what about a backup copy on the server, which I believe every American born is entitled to make and own, despite the passing of the DMCA – if I even make one copy it’s still breaking the law isn’t I? Kind of rediculous that you can be prosecuted for that but it is law.The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a travesty because of the idiotic WAY it was implemented – words like paranoid and delusional come easily to mind. But to sell all the original recordings/albums after ripping is a sin - so Elk is right, right?
But what if I want to share a recording with someone (I still have original and have paid for the original) …what if I mastered my back-up of the original (very rare) LP recording on a particular preamp ‘X’ and with a very respectable transcription turntable “Y” and its actually sounds BETTER than the original CD crap recordings made available to the public at the time - impossible you say, but let’s just say so for the sake of argument. Does that sound quality improvement or ‘alternate audio version’ belong to the original artist? What if my audiophile buddy agrees that it is an improvement, a real noticeable difference and he would like to own a copy of my ‘one-off’ special recording – he really can’t obtain the original vinyl anymore… album to digital multi-generation bad-copies have invaded the landscape and he is not even sure of what he is purchasing quality-wise anymore.
I’m sure this has actually happened for many audiophiles, and the truth is some albums/recordings are out of print and very rare. And if you should ‘share’ some recorded material (like every other red-blooded American has at one point in their life) in the interest of pure musical enjoyment why should anyone be prosecuted? I’m not advocating making money here or any wholesale copying/distribution of media, but how extreme do we really need to be?
Are we NEVER to share ANY recordings with fellow audiophiles (just because of DMCA) for fear that the DMCA police will come and invade our homes? Is George Orwell 's 1984 here at last? In the digital age we have already lost most of our sense of privacy. Is independent action next to be ‘in jeopardy ‘. What about common sense and a new way of thinking?
Amanda Palmer is among the new breed of artists who are unafraid to state that it is not necessary for anyone to puchase her music, period. Payment is optional and she relies entirely on her fans and fan-base to provide services and support for her music and her live concerts. WOW, now that is a refreshing idea in the digital-paranoid-age and one that will strike fear in the hearts of record mogols everywhere. But she is proving that as an alternate business model it IS working for her since she left Dresden Dolls. Hmmmm. Maybe she is onto something.
@elk OK, good point, I’ll refrain from encouraging them to sell it. I have so little regard for these antiquated laws that I just pretend like they don’t exist.
Paul McGowan said: I have so little regard for these antiquated laws that I just pretend like they don't exist.
Love that! Way to go! I wonder when all these RIAA/etc go bankrupt when they loose support from artists and the recording companies. Because what they do is effectively useless and eat much more money than return.
Interesting thing... No copyright = no piracy. I wonder what would happen if companies invested all the money they spend on "antipiracy" on R&D and new technology. Copyrights effectively break the progress.
We learn by copying or imitating others. As for money, there must be another way to earn them. Look at OpenSource projects. Linux is free, Firefox is free, Star/LibreOffice is free, MySQL is free, WikiPedia is free, on-line dictionaries are free.
Artists began to switch to donations indeed. Lawyers and politicians are too inert to keep up with the progress.
Having owned 3 record stores in my younger years, I had the pleasure of dealing with the growing power and control of the distribution networks for LPs which were largely owned by the producing corps.
Being an independent, they did just about everything possible to knock me out of competition with their own and growing chains of retail outlets.
I had many artist friends who made next to peanuts from the sales and often were forced to give up their “author rights” in exchange for time in the studio and album promotion.
Needless to say that I developed a strong dislike for their Draconian ways.
If you look around us today we see that other important industries are run with the same carnivorous techniques.
They even decide for us [financially] who or political leaders will be or at the very least their policies.
I have respect for the “free enterprise” system and believe that left alone, markets tend to be self regulating.
NOT HOWEVER when industry leaders are allowed to practice “Pac-Man” on all the competition and try to set all the rules in their favor.
I have purchased hundreds of thousands of LPs and CD’s over the years [ business and personal] as well as HD downloads more recently.
I’m thankful and willing to pay for the ability to augment my music library. Somehow though, We need to send a message to these guys that it is time to make it a people business again.
@alekz i would not mention MySQL as an example Let’s rather use Postgresql or Apache
As you know, when Sun bought it it looked promising, but once Oracle bought Sun it started to go downhill .
straylight said: ut what about a backup copy on the server, which I believe every American born is entitled to make and own – if I even make one copy it's still breaking the law isn’t I?
Yes, this is breaking a copyright holder's exclusive right to copy. However, the major labels have all indicated they have no objection to a backup made by the owner of a legitimate commercial copy.
straylight said: But what if I want to share a recording with someone (I still have original and have paid for the original) ...what if I mastered my back-up of the original . . . Does that sound quality improvement or ‘alternate audio version’ belong to the original artist?
Yes. You can, however, license his work and then sell yours as a new version. Think Daft Punk's remix of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" included in "Stronger" by Kanye West. Kanye did not get to use it without compensation.
What if my audiophile buddy agrees that it is an improvement, . . . he is not even sure of what he is purchasing quality-wise anymore.
While this is a problem, the fact available commercial copies may be dreadful makes no difference.
Amanda Palmer is among the new breed of artists who are unafraid to state that it is not necessary for anyone to puchase her music, period. Payment is optional . . .
A completely legitimate choice. But it is her choice to make, not ours.
Paul McGowan said: I have so little regard for these antiquated laws that I just pretend like they don't exist.
What would you, and others, purpose as the alternative?
Digital piracy (both domestic and foreign, such as the Chinese ripping off and selling US DVDs, etc.) is a legitimate problem. The song writer, artist, recording engineer, producer, label of a piece of music are all entitled to be paid for their work and decide the terms of sale. Music is not free to create.
It seems to be a pretty good balance to allow anyone to make a copy of their commercially purchased CD or DVD for back up. use in the car, play on an MP3 player, digitize an LP. You have full use of your copy in any way you see fit. You just can't give or sell it to someone else. Seems pretty fair.
It is a bit like a dollar bill. If I make color copies and use them for my own amusement the Feds are unlikely to bother me. But if I start using them I get in trouble. The mere fact that copies are easy to make does not make the new bills mine to spread around.
If I do not like the price of a new recording, do not like the sound quality, etc., I do not buy it. If all consumers do the same the recording companies will produce what we want.
The irony however is that people claim they do not like modern music production, but are illegally downloading more than ever. Why download hundreds of titles if you honestly believe it is unlistenable? This is a patently self-serving argument.
As a practical matter, copying a truly rare, out-of-print LP and making a copy for a friend is not going to raise any hackles. Moreover, actual damages to the copyright owner are small and statutory damages not worth pursuing under these circumstances.
Ripping the latest best-selling CD and hosting a torrent is an entirely different matter.
Gordon said: Somehow though, We need to send a message to these guys that it is time to make it a people business again.
A very legitimate position. So what do we do? Stealing their recordings is not the answer.
Many recordings are getting old enough now that sorting out who owns the copyright can be difficult or impossible. I suspect this practical reality makes detection of commission of infringement or prosecution of infringement too messy to sort out. No one would bother with this in the way that they would with mass marketed media that uses ill-gotten samples.
Copyright, like other forms of intellectual property, serves important functions that cannot be so easily dismissed. That is not to say that IP practices are all savoury, or that developments like digital media do not raise some problems. It is to say, however, that it is one thing to not like IP as a matter of principle, and another to not like IP because of some practices.
It is pretty tough to argue against business models in which artists are treated fairly and recording companies stay afloat because consumers pay up. If other models using different approaches to copyright can work along side these, great, so much the better. Neither really challenges copyright in principle, it is mostly a matter of what is done with it that has consequences for us all.
As an aside, I think I have mentioned before that I suspect that transcoding is an interesting issue for copyright since it raises questions about the form of the original work and the transcoded “copy” as well as issues about whether the SQ differences are sufficiently discernible that they could be considered changes to the meaning of the original. I will bet RIAA has an opinion on this one!
Excellent, thoughtful post.
I’m not sure what you are getting at with respect to transcoding. The RIAA has stated it will not pursue violations of copyright based on an owner’s transcoding to MP3 or to any format - or for that matter, making an out right copy as back up or to play in the car without risking damage to the original CD.
Copying to another, inferior format - such as CD to cassette violates the exclusive right to distribute. Copying to the same or better format is also a violation.
And MP3 is not an inferior format compared CD (production quality or lack thereof notwithstanding)?
Elk said: I'm not sure what you are getting at with respect to transcoding. The RIAA has stated it will not pursue violations of copyright based on an owner's transcoding to MP3 or to any format - or for that matter, making an out right copy as back up or to play in the car without risking damage to the original CD.
ah - I see you know about RIAA's position on this. If you have a reference handy I'd be interested to see exactly what they said. That's a policy decision; there is a lingering legal issue about whether and when transcoding is technically copyright violation.
@wingsounds - yep MP3s are a classic case of disruptive innovation - new markets/value/consumers created, in this case, around a more ubiquitous but inferior (in all respects but portability) product. The existence of MP3 is, in itself, an argument for paying full freight for high resolution downloads! I banish thee, MP3, back to the hell from which you came!
Flash into the future where Water, in the wild, is undrinkable.
Now a handful of “big brother” corps controls the distribution of water and we MUST purchase exclusively from them, we MUST not share what we have bought and if we make tea with it and offer to our neighbor we are liable to capital punishment.
OK, a stretch, but if our perspectives are based on “preserving” the old model that we now somehow view as "flawed, then we will never find a new way.
Prohibition bred bootleggers because the general consumer saw nothing wrong with having a drink once in a while while dining or watching live entertainment.
Montreal,s famous nightlife and jazz scene , in fact was largely due to the flocks of enjoyment seekers from south of the border. Even today with an age requirement of 18, not 21, the flocks still come.
There are two issues to consider.
1/ the legitimate right of a commercial enterprise to protect it’s investment and for how long after they have sold it into the wild.
2/ Does the population of the “self proclaimed” freest society in the world, wish to continue to allow the large corporations to build monopolies and dictate your way of life?
Just like the mob, they spread just enough money around to attract and maintain supporters.
Maybe the view from over the fence [ yes your taxes are now heading towards building fences to “protect” you from your dangerous Northern Border] is less affected by FOX News.
I think it is time for “Audiophile spring” and a musical march and occupation of Times Square to make our voices heard.
Oh, but remember not to share the bottled water they sold you.
ELK, I am not convinced that making a backup for personal use of a non-copy protected source is a violation of copyright. I would think that likely falls under “fair use” and the reason the RIAA and some labels may have announced that they would not “prosecute” (which really means or file a civil suit or criminal complaint as only the government can prosecute) such copying is that if they tried it they would lose in court. In the Betamax case the US Supreme Court held it was permissible to copy TV broadcasts to watch at the taper’s convenience but it did not say the taper had to erase the tape once viewed. Personal backup copies represent a much smaller threat to the copyright holder than copies of broadcasts. I believe that by its terms the DCMA makes it illegal to defeat copy protection but does not otherwise impact the fair use doctrine. (I do not claim to be an expert in intellectual property law, however.) There does have to be a balance here and I certainly agree you should not copy a CD or LP and give away the original (witness the hundreds of CDs sitting in boxes in my basement).
I personally do not plan to digitize all of my LPs. I will try a few to see how close the copies come to the original. I am skeptical the digital copy will sound identical, although it may (and hpefully will) be very close. Paul’s point about digital’s superior dynamic range is correct but to assume that the digital copy sounds the same is to assume that the ADC and DAC processes work in practice as well as they do on paper (i.e., perfectly). Life rarely works that way.
I think it is time for "Audiophile spring" and a musical march and occupation of Times Square to make our voices heard.
Oh, but remember not to share the bottled water they sold you.
Gordon, I work in Times Square. Count me in. But please don't trash the neighborhood with your radical audiophile hordes.
David said: I see you know about RIAA's position on this. If you have a reference handy I'd be interested to see exactly what they said. That's a policy decision; there is a lingering legal issue about whether and when transcoding is technically copyright violation.
It is technically a violation in my opinion, but I am unaware of any decision addressing this directly. The RIAA stated its position in one of its briefs in the recent cases but I am unable to quickly locate it. They do have this copyright summary here (see the bottom). Also from their FAQ, "Music companies have never objected to someone making a copy of a CD for their own personal use. We want fans to enjoy the music they bought legally." cite
stevem2 said: I am not convinced that making a backup for personal use of a non-copy protected source is a violation of copyright. I would think that likely falls under "fair use."
The holder of a copyright enjoys, among other things, an exclusive right of distribution; i.e., to control the number and type of copies, sales, etc. There are some limitations on this right however. One is the safe harbor created by "Fair Use."
Fair Use is statutorily defined, together with court decisions interpreting the language of the statute. It is an affirmative defense to an action of copyright violation. The Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act provides, in part, a copy made "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."
Personal use, for whatever reason, is neither enumerated or analogous to the examples provided nor can it be argued it meets the factors set for in the statute (I did not quote these factors). Lay people routinely confuse "Fair Use" with what they think is fair. The confusion arises as the phrase "Fair Use" is a term of art, not an idiomatic expression.
stevem2 said: I believe that by its terms the DCMA makes it illegal to defeat copy protection but does not otherwise impact the fair use doctrine.
Yes. Entirely different animals.
stevem2 said: Paul's point about digital's superior dynamic range is correct but to assume that the digital copy sounds the same is to assume that the ADC and DAC processes work in practice as well as they do on paper (i.e., perfectly).
Very true. It will be fun to hear the opinions of those that give it a try.
Indeed, ‘fair use’ is not whatever you like! Similarly, ‘patent exhaustion’ isn’t tired intellectual property.