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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 52 |buddhadharma teachers themselves (though most often this is done by staff at the center where the talk was recorded), and anyone can download the talks to their home computers or listen online. Teachers can also tell Dharma Seed if teachings have restricted access, and then only students qualified to hear them can gain access, through a password system. “Our hope,” says Judy Phillips “is to eliminate a lot of front-end administration by giving students direct access, but it has taken us several years to create and implement this new model.” Dharma Seed has outsourced the distribution of audiotape and CD copies of talks to meet the needs of those who can’t or don’t wish to download or stream talks online. Funding and Copyright Funding for archives, particularly the archives of small, slightly obscure Buddhist organizations, is a struggle. Communities are always faced with pressing, day-to-day needs that require money, such as program development, renovations, build- ing retreat centers, and supporting living teach- ers. Archives are usually a second-string concern. In the mid-1990s, Michael Wenger was able to obtain $30,000 from the board of San Francisco Zen Center to back up (on analog) and transcribe about four hundred hours of Suzuki Roshi’s lec- tures. It had been more than twenty years since Suzuki Roshi’s death and getting this funding was critical to preserving his archive. An initiative to distribute a forty-lecture series to the Branching Stream network of centers affiliated with San Francisco Zen Center will help to support the digitization of those talks. Dharma Seed obtained its original funding from the Insight Foundation and donors. In the late 1990s, a practitioner named John Moyer con- tacted Dharma Seed and offered to help the orga- nization digitize its analog archive. He supplied the equipment along with the technical know-how. “We’re totally grateful to this one practitioner who put us on this path,” says Phillips. For years, Dharma Seed charged a fee for copies of any of its archived talks. Then in 1999, Dharma Seed decided it wanted to find a way to make copies available for free, and the following year it began offering newly recorded teachings at no charge. Andrew Olendzki, former Dharma Seed board president, explains, “Our goal has been to go out of business. We have already moved from selling tapes at a discount to freely distributing the talks in multiple forms (tapes, CDs, MP3s, and other audio files), and we now rely entirely upon the generosity of listeners to support the operation.” The Shambhala Archives is funded through donations, government grants, and a few individual project initiatives, but the operation is forever strug- gling to stay afloat. An “Adopt a Tape” campaign to raise funds to restore and digitalize Trungpa Rinpoche’s video archive has been discontinued due to lack of interest. Internationally, a large number of Shambhala centers have funded the digitization of a 1,500-lecture collection of Trungpa Rinpoche’s Hinayana and Mahayana talks by agreeing to pur- chase it to make it available as a library for local students. If simple curricula are developed – such as one recently created for a DVD series from Trungpa Rinpoche’s 1974 foundation class at the Naropa Institute that has become very popular – then old teachings become new, and students’ inspiration to support archiving and distribution may increase; at least, that’s the hope. Just as important as securing support is ensur- ing clear ownership of the material under the stew- ardship of the archives. Archivists need to know who owns the copyrights to the material they hold, because the ownership affects reproduction rights. Copyright law is complex, and dharma centers need to get legal advice on this crucial issue as it may dictate how a teacher’s legacy can or cannot be used by students. When a teacher gives a talk, the spoken words by themselves are considered to be intangible and do not constitute, in any legal sense, a “thing.” However, once the spoken words are recorded on paper, audiotape, or digital media, a “tangible object” comes into existence. Strange as it may seem, unless there is a prior agreement, the person who records the talk legally owns the recording and the reproduction rights, because he or she created the tangible object that forms the legal basis for copyright. If that talk is then tran- scribed, the transcriber legally owns that version of the talk, having created the transcript. If the person doing the recording is on the dharma cen- ter’s payroll, the copyright belongs to the dharma center. If there is a contractual agreement that an outside recorder or transcriber is performing “work for hire,” the copyright bypasses the tech- nician or transcriber and goes to the teacher or dharma center, whoever contracted for the record- ing to be made. Dharma centers and teachers need to make agreements that specify ownership and stipulate conditions. But even when it’s clearly established, copyright ownership is valid only over specific intervals of time, with respect to a variety of sce- narios. Factors such as publication date, creation date, and whether or not the item in question is a “work made for hire” may affect the duration of ownership. When a teacher dies, he or she can only bequeath the copyright of works if he or she owns it in the first place. Trungpa Rinpoche was able to bequeath copyright to his wife, Diana Mukpo, because he had considered the issue in the early Photo:harryhaigE,FroMthEcollEctionoFthEshaMBhalaarchivEs