How Can I Obtain Copies of Sound Recordings?

The process for obtaining copies of sound recordings is typically a two-step process.

First, the intellectual property rights associated with the recordings must be determined.

In many cases, permissions searches for the rights holder(s) must first be conducted before the Library is allowed to make copies of recordings. Rights holders are most often the performers or their estates, but sometimes may also be the donors of the collection, etc. And, in the case of recordings made of indigenous people, rights may be retained by the communities of origin, by specific ceremonial organizations, and so on. 

The American Folklife Center (AFC) staff will investigate the collection documentation and correspondence and get back to you with our findings. When we have specific contact information for the rights holders, we will provide that; if we do not have such information, we will provide alternative search strategies for you to use in order to make good-faith attempts to secure permission.

Second, once permissions issues, if any, have been resolved, we can then proceed to the phonoduplication process itself. In cases where audio materials are already digitized and where we have direct access to the audio files, AFC staff may be able to fulfill the request directly. In other instances, we will need to refer you to the Library's Recording Lab. 

You can find more about the Lab's processes and fees here

We will work with you throughout the process. Please send your specific inquiries to us here.


Last Updated: Sep 02, 2020
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American Folklife Center
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Washington, DC  20540-4610