Bringing Digital in from the Cold: Collecting and Preserving Music Downloads

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University Libraries


Recordings, Online music, Digital downloads, Collection, End user license agreement (EULA), Licensing


The rapid evolution of distribution models for recorded music has challenged libraries in a new way over the last decade. Music libraries in particular have struggled to collect, preserve, and lend recordings as the CD has become obsolescent, and with it the ownership of recordings as physical objects. This article reviews the literature on the problem of collecting digital music downloads, analyzes areas of agreement and disagreement between experts, and sorts proposed solutions into “top-down” (or authority-driven) and “bottom-up” (or grass-roots) categories. We then describe a practice developed at University of Denver for collecting downloads, and discuss its limitations and possibilities.

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