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Digital conversion of audio, photographic and film collections in sound and audiovisual archives for purposes of preservation and accessibility has been the norm in archival practice since the 1990s. As a result, analog to digital conversion of many music heritage collections, such as the field recordings of Hugh Tracey at the International Library of African Music (ILAM) in South Africa, has been accomplished. With funding secured from the Mellon Foundation, Rand Merchant Bank Expressions Fund, South African National Heritage Council (NAC) and National Research Foundation (NRF), the recordings, films, photos and documents in the Hugh Tracey Collection (hereafter referred to as the Collection) were catalogued and preserved in digital format from 2006-2008. The audio files and 1,000 images in the Collection have been accessible in compressed form via the Internet since late in 2008. Plus, Tracey’s well-known Sound of Africa and Music of Africa LP series are available as CD compilations and as MP3 files from ILAM and various on-line vendors. Not suprisingly, the many and various opportunities for dissemination digital conversion of field recordings has afforded have brought with them ethical issues for cultural heritage archives which are breifly discussed below.
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