Legal and ethical usage

The recordings on this website are governed by licence agreements between the British Library and the Licensors. The material is intended solely for the purposes of teaching, learning and research. Any misuse of the materials such as illegal file sharing, misquotation, misappropriation or decontextualisation constitutes a breach of these agreements. Please treat the materials with respect as a failure to do so constitutes a breach of the trust we have built up with the licensors.

The British Library has established a framework for including recordings in online delivery projects that considers both legal and ethical issues. The Library respects the intellectual property rights, including moral rights of the rights owners and has made all reasonable effort to contact and consult recordists and rights owners including, where appropriate, artists and communities directly and via local community organisations.

Due effort has been made to ensure culturally sensitive material has been cleared for use or has been removed from wider access. Where possible we have employed local media such as radio stations and newspapers to inform communities of our intention to make material available. We are using await claim statements to enable rights holders to contact us, Notice and Takedown clauses so that material can be removed if a copyright holder objects to its inclusion, and agreements with local musician's unions and collection bodies where appropriate to clear rights in musical and literary works.

Ethical and permitted usage of recordings

The following statement has been prepared together with the World Intellectual Property Organization

The British Library has digitised these collections of recordings and made them available purely for the purposes of safeguarding them and for making them available for non-commercial research, study and private enjoyment. The collections include culturally sensitive materials, among them ethnographic sound recordings. These recordings should not be altered or used in ways that might be derogatory to the indigenous and local communities who are traditional custodians of the traditional music, lyrics, knowledge, stories, performances and other creative materials embodied in the sound recordings.

While the British Library, or contributors to its collections, may be the owner of intellectual property in the digitisations of the sound recordings and in the sound recordings themselves, the Library recognises that broader rights and interests in intangible cultural heritage, including traditional music and other creative materials embodied in the sound recordings may, under national, customary and other laws, reside with the traditional custodians of such materials. Therefore the prior informed consent of the British Library and/ or other contributing third parties, as well as the traditional custodians is required for the republication and commercial use of part or whole of these materials.

The British Library always seeks to take account of cultural sensitivities and any religious or other restrictions in the recordings its possesses and/or owns. Where possible, the location and date of the recording, the names of original performers and traditional custodians of the music, and the lyrics, knowledge, stories and performances embodied in the sound recordings have been identified. The Library takes considerable care not to distort or alter this underlying material in any derogatory way. In the event, however, that any community or community representative feels aggrieved by the digitisation and making available of these materials, the British Library invites such community to contact it via the link below in order to resolve the matter amicably through mutual discussion.

Notice and Takedown Policy