The recordings on this website are governed by agreements between the British Library and identified representatives of the relevant heritage communities. 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 and of the trust we have built up with the heritage communities.

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.

The True Echoes project is engaged in ongoing research and consultation within heritage communities to establish agreements for making content available. Particular emphasis is placed on potentially culturally sensitive material. We employ Notice and Takedown policies so that material can be removed if required.

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 it 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.

Removal of content

In making material available online the British Library acts in good faith. However, despite these safeguards, we recognise that from time to time material published online may be in breach of copyright laws, contain sensitive personal data, or include content that may be regarded as obscene or defamatory.  If you are concerned that you have found material on our website, for which you have not given permission, contravenes privacy laws, is obscene / defamatory and in terms of copyright law is not covered by a limitation or exception, please contact us at  stating the following:

  • Your contact details.
  • The full details of the material.
  • The exact and full URL where you found the material.
  • If the request relates to copyright, provide proof that you are the rights holder and a statement that, under penalty of perjury, you are the rights holder or are an authorised representative.
  • The reason for your request including but not limited to copyright law, privacy laws, data protection, obscenity, defamation etc.

Upon receipt of notification our ‘Notice and Takedown’ procedure will then be invoked as follows:

  1. The British Library will acknowledge receipt of your complaint by email or letter and will make an initial assessment of the validity and plausibility of the complaint.
  2. Upon receipt of a valid complaint the material will be temporarily removed from the True Echoes website pending an agreed solution.
  3. The British Library will contact the contributor who deposited the material, if relevant. The contributor will be notified that the material is subject to a complaint, under what grounds, and will be encouraged to assuage the complaints concerned.
  4. The complainant and the contributor will be encouraged to resolve the issue swiftly and amicably and to the satisfaction of both parties, with the following possible outcomes:
  • The material is replaced on the True Echoes website unchanged.
  • The material is replaced on the True Echoes website with changes.
  • The material is permanently removed from the website. If the contributor and the complainant are unable to agree a solution, the material will remain unavailable through the True Echoes website until a time when a resolution has been reached.

The True Echoes team, and others that we designate, shall have the right (but not the obligation) at our sole discretion to refuse or remove any content that is posted to, or available on, the Website without the need to give any reasons for doing so.