Friday, July 17, 2009

Why I'm Sticking to Hard Copy for Now

Amazon erased electronic copies of (wait for it) George Orwell's 1984 from purchasers' Kindles.

I read about this earlier today at David Pogue's blog. It turns out that the electronic publisher did not have the right to publish 1984, which is still under copyright in the United States, and will be until 2044. Still, the irony is delicious. And it explains one reason among many that I'm not getting a Kindle any time soon: I don't want to pay for something and have it removed from a device I own.

To put this into classical music perspective, this is the equivalent of the Metropolitan Opera turning up on your doorstep and removing your copy of, say, the 1937 Martinelli/Tibbett/Rethberg Otello or Kirsten Flagstad's first Met Tristan broadcast, which is from 1935. Not that anyone I know has anything other than the official Met LP or CD issues of Otello (the 1940) and Tristan (from 1941), of course.

This isn't the only reason I'm steering clear of the Kindle. I have a T-Mobile G1 Dream, and there are multiple ways to read public domain books on it. And lots of public domain books I want to read.

Trollope or Scott, anyone? Bard of Avon? Milton or Blake? Bronte?


Henry Holland said...

Not that anyone I know has anything other than the official Met LP or CD issues of Otello (the 1940) and Tristan (from 1941), of course

Hahahaha. I have boxes of cassettes, a bunch of reel-to-reels and stacks of CD's of bootleg opera recordings --at last count, I had 17 different performances of Die Tote Stadt alone-- that if the cops kick my door in with a warrant about all my illegal and illicit recordings, I'll go meekly.

I've actually been disappointed about how much hassle it is to get downloads of live performances of complete operas on the Net. I know it's daunting because of the length of the pieces (= huge files) and the cost of bandwith, but when I first heard about music being downloadable on the Internet, I figured opera would be a major part of that. I know there were people that would record to cassettes or reel-to-reel (and later DAT) broadcasts of live performances. Entities like the BBC, Radio France, RAI and the various regional German radio broadcasters would do live broadcasts all the time and I thought there'd be tapers that would convert them to digital files and send them out in to the world again.

Those entities also did a lot of one-off studio performances of rarities (my favorite Schreker Die Gezeichneten with Stewart, Lear and Uhl is from a 1964 NDR broadcast) and those performances are often the only known recording of some pieces. Alas.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Seventeen tote Stadts - that's the moral equivalent of 70 Aida bootlegs, you know.

Your best bet for bootlegs is often personal acquaintance with people who pack minidisc recorders, alas.

Anonymous said...

When someone invents time travel, I'm going backwards with one of those minidisc recorders. First stop, Vienna, 1808.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'll take June 10, 1865, followed by May 29, 1913. And throw in any date when Liszt was playing as well.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody record San Francisco, November 1964?

Lisa Hirsch said...

You've got me on that one.

Anonymous said...


Lisa Hirsch said...

Aha, that did cross my mind.