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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

February 23, 2017

Proof of destruction

evelyn @ 3:44 pm

Publisher’s helpline person:    You must ask our Head Office for permission to copy, and if they give it, you must destroy the copies once your delayed order is received, and provide proof of destruction.

Me:     Provide proof of destruction? How do we do that?

Helpline person:     You send a photograph of the music being shredded.

It’s the old copyright problem rearing its head again. Our choir is spreading its wings a bit, and feels up to tackling a modern piece, if it isn’t too difficult. An organist colleague suggested the Benedictus from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man (it’s beautiful, listen to it here, or here), and lent me her copy.

I then ordered 15 copies from the publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, but the order has been delayed at their end, and their email gave no indication of when it could be expected. So I phoned and explained that we had planned to sing the piece in Holy Week, and if we couldn’t have the music by next Tuesday’s practice, we wouldn’t be able to get it ready in time. If the music didn’t come by Tuesday’s post, could we photocopy my borrowed copy and destroy the photocopies once the real ones arrived? Their answer was as above, although they helpfully suggested checking again on Friday, and they would try to rush it through.

So I’ve decided to wait until next week before phoning Head Office, and in the meantime have been pondering just what ‘proof of destruction’ means.

A single picture of a person pushing two or three photocopies of pages into a shredder doesn’t prove that every copy has been destroyed. If, for example, there are 10 photocopied pieces, each with 10 pages, then only 100 very clear identifiable photographs (50 if it is double-sided) would be complete proof of destruction. A video might give a better idea, but would be a massive file. And who has the time to watch 10-15 minutes of someone shredding paper?

What if you don’t have a shredder? I suppose you could photograph or video yourself tearing up pages and putting them in the council’s recycling bin.

If the music comes in time, I won’t have to phone Head Office, of course.  But if I do then we’ll see exactly what the proof of destruction requirement is, and I’ll let you know.

I have to say, though, that if someone shows a sense of responsibility by phoning to ask for this permission, in circumstances which are not of their making, then that person should surely be trusted to do the honourable thing afterwards, without any ‘proof’ being needed.

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