(Digital Collections) Access to the Sound Files

The question we receive the most from people interested in this project is related to information on how they can listen to or obtain copies of these recordings. Unfortunately, the material we are collecting was produced between 1940 and 1970, and all of this material is most likely protected by copyright.

We have made some attempts to identify the copyright holders, but there are several issues that impede this process:

  • Music produced prior to 1970 was copyrighted at the state level, not the national level, and the copyright laws (and expiration of copyright) varied from state to state.
  • Many of these recordings were produced by small, little-known producers. At some point in time, these producers went out of business and disappeared or were bought by larger recording labels.
  • Some recordings were produced live at radio stations, some were produced at local churches or entities that may or may not still exist today.

Because of these copyright issues, we have determined that in an open environment we can provide detailed information that describes the recordings and 30-second sound bites of the music (using streaming technology). However, the full sound recordings will only be made available to researchers who are physically present at Baylor University.

The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project is purely a non-profit, preservation, and scholarly-oriented project. We want to preserve this music for the long term while adhering to and respecting the copyright of the individuals who produced this music. –brp

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