Linguists, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists all record audio material as part of their research. This material has immense cultural significance as it is often the only record of endangered cultures. Its uniqueness also places an ethical obligation on the researchers to look after the material so that it can be returned to the community if desired. We are in the midst of the digital revolution, and standards are currently being forged for encoding, indexing and sharing of data that will affect the work of all researchers now and into the future.

Whether linguists, musicologists, oral historians or anthropologists, we share a common concern to ensure that our primary data is transferred and maintained in the digital domain in ways that maximise future longevity and access, and are congruent with our ethical undertakings to our collaborators. In many cases these aims are quite contrary to the interests of the global commercial music industry, which continues to dominate technological development of digital audio. At the same time our institutions are in the early stages of establishing appropriate models for managing and sharing electronic resources within national and international academic and library networks. We consider that it is timely for a researcher's perspective to be contributed to these debates.

This collection of papers was originally published through Open Conference Systems by the Faculty of Arts, University of Sydney in 2004:

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