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To the devout reader
If it is true that the common good is damaged by those who find a treasure and do not share it, but hide it away and do not enrich the world with it as they should, then I would have made a greater error if I, having in my hands the papers of Delia Derbyshire, which are a musical treasure, had not brought them to light to be seen by many people who, by means of this work, are sure to be enlightened and enriched. Thus, to avoid this sin, I have resolved to publish these papers which until now have been hidden away merely because their custodian, out of modesty and humility, shuns the glare of publicity. Thus I have become his intermediary, out of love for humanity and respect for their author, in such a way that he might remain in his privacy and at the same time the world might not be defrauded of so much good.

[paraphrased from Trattato della Religione, 1592]

All of Delia's work that was specifically commissioned by the BBC will be in BBC copyright for eternity.[1]

I am told that the BBC is claiming that other pieces of Delia's, in which she used a sound originally created for a BBC piece, or that were realised using BBC equipment, are also covered by BBC copyright, both of which are absurd.

Works commissioned by other entities, such as theatre effects and film music, is copyright to whoever paid of it or, in some cases, the eternal rights were retained by Kaleidophon, Unit Delta Plus or Electrophon. Recent EU legislation[2] puts them into the public domain as "orphan works" if the people or organisations owning them cannot be traced by a "good faith, due diligence search".

Delia's unpublished music belongs to her and hence to her heir The Delia Derbyshire Estate, currently Clive Blackburn.[3]

EU law

EU Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society

The EU Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, 22 May 2001 [4] affords to authors, performers, phonogram producers, film makers and broadcasting organisations:

the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part: for authors, of their works; for performers, of fixations of their performances; for phonogram producers, of their phonograms; for the producers of the first fixations of films and copies of them; for broadcasting organisations, of fixations of their broadcasts by wire or over the air.[4]

and, to the same five groups

the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit (authors:) communication or (the other four:) the making available to the public of their works.

The makeup sounds that Delia made at the BBC during the preparation of her pieces may be covered by Article 5, 2.(d):

in respect of ephemeral recordings of works made by broadcasting organisations by means of their own facilities and for their own broadcasts; the preservation of these recordings in official archives may, on the grounds of their exceptional documentary character, be permitted;

The rest of the WikiDelia hides under the broad exceptions in Article 5, paragraphs 2(c):

in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries or archives, which are not for economic or commercial advantage


use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated

and 3(d):

quotations for purposes such as criticism or review, provided that they relate to a work or other subject-matter which has already been lawfully made available to the public, including the author's name, provided that the use is in accordance with fair practice, and to the extent required by the specific purpose

As far as accessing Delia's tapes is concerned, the John Rowlands Library at Manchester University is covered by the exception in Article 5 paragraph 3(n):

communication or making available, for the purpose of research or private study, to individual members of the public by dedicated terminals on the premises of establishments referred to in paragraph 2(c) of works and other subject-matter not subject to purchase or licensing terms which are contained in their collections

and can let you sit and listen to her tapes.