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Ordering Copies of Unpublished Recordings from Archive of Folk Culture Collections

It is usually possible to order copies of unpublished field recordings from Archive of Folk Culture collections by placing what is called a Phonoduplication Order. Please read carefully the following regarding permissions before submitting a request.


In most cases, permissions are not required if you are ordering copies of recordings for private or research purposes (unless the performer was a commercial artist during his or her lifetime). If the recordings are to be used for profit or non-profit publication (film, radio or television broadcast, CD, CD ROM, Web-site presentation, etc.) then you will have to obtain written permission (or document your good-faith attempts to do so).

The Library retains no proprietary rights regarding the use of recordings in its collections. All performance rights remain with the performers or their estates. Upon your request, Archive reference staff will consult our files to see whether we have records of previous attempts to contact those performers or estates. We recommend that you send a certified, return-receipt-requested letter to the address that you find or we supply. Should the letter be returned to you unopened, please forward it (still unopened) to us as proof of your good-faith effort to contact the appropriate persons. Please keep track of all contact attempts that you make. That information kept in our files will constitute documentation of your efforts.

We advise individuals and companies who wish to publish Archive recordings to send us a letter indicating their intention to set aside an appropriate amount (comparable to fees paid to license other such recordings) to cover costs if an appropriate claimant steps forward later. Such a letter in our files will document the individual or company's good-faith attempt to honor performance rights.

Please note that, in some cases, it may also be necessary for you to check the copyright status of the actual compositions performed on Archive recordings.

Price and Turnaround Time

The Library's Recording Laboratory receives no tax dollars and operates, therefore, essentially like a commercial studio in the Washington, D.C., area, charging comparable rates. The Recording Laboratory currently charges $109 per hour for engineering time (15-minute setup charge, plus 15-minute increments based on running time of materials and associated time spent on flat-winding, reel changes, cleaning, etc.) plus the costs of CD tracking and labeling ($27.25), duplication stock, and shipping.

Rush service is available for an additional $75 per hour, plus other costs listed above (rush orders are considered on a case-by-case basis). For the most current information on costs, see The Recorded Sound Laboratory's schedule of Audio Transfer Rates.

Regular orders take from four to six weeks to fill; rush orders take five to seven business days from the time payment is received.

How to Place an Order

1. Submit your written request through mail, fax, or email to:

American Folklife Center
c/o Reference Committee
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-4610
email address:

2. Identify the specific materials you want by AFC and/or AFS number, and a brief description. If you are unsure of the catalog numbers and approximate durations of the recordings you are interested in, or have other questions, contact the Folklife Reading Room.

3. Select which audio format you need (CD, cassette, open reel, or R-DAT).

4. Provide a statement about how you plan to use the recordings. This information helps us determine whether you first need to seek any permissions.

5. Provide us with your actual street address (copied requests are delivered via FedEx, so a post office box number will not work), a daytime phone number, and a fax number if you have one.

Once all of the above information is received, our reference staff will advise you of any rights restrictions requiring written permission before the audio duplication can proceed. Once permissions issues, if any, are settled, the reference staff will fill out the necessary forms and send them to the Library's Recording Laboratory. The Laboratory staff will, in turn, send you a form to sign and to return to them together with the estimated prepayment, which will be listed on the form.

Note: International orders require prepayment by check drawn on a U.S. bank or International Money Order in U.S. dollars.

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  April 1, 2008
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