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To the devout reader
If it is true that the common good is damaged by those who find a treasure and do not share it, but hide it away and do not enrich the world with it as they should, then I would have made a greater error if I, having in my hands the works of Delia Derbyshire, which are a musical treasure, had not brought them to light to be seen by many people who, by means of this work, are sure to be enlightened and enriched. Thus, to avoid this sin, I have resolved to publish these works which until now have been hidden away merely because their rightful custodian, out of modesty and humility, shuns the glare of publicity. Thus I have become his intermediary, out of love for humanity and respect for their author, in such a way that he might remain in his privacy and at the same time the world might not be defrauded of so much good.

[paraphrased from Trattato della Religione, 1592]

Copyright owners

Any of Delia's work that was specifically commissioned by BBC programme producers is copyright to that body. Works created for other bodies outside the BBC are usually copyrighted to whoever commissioned them though, in a few cases, the rights for all uses other than the specific commission were retained by Kaleidophon, Unit Delta Plus or Electrophon. The situation for non-BBC works in which Delia reused her own sounds or makeup tracks, originally created for BBC works, to make other pieces, is debatable.

Recent EU legislation[1] puts anything into the public domain as an "orphan work" if the people or organisations owning them cannot be traced by a "good faith, due diligence search".

The referent for Delia's unpublished music is her de facto heir, sometimes referred to as "The Delia Derbyshire Estate", who is Clive Blackburn.[2] It would have belonged to her husband, David Hunter, who she married in 1974 and never divorced, but he had died in 1998.[3]

UK law

In the UK, the term of copyright in a musical composition is limited to the life of the author plus 70 years, while the term of copyright in a sound recording is limited to 50 or 70 years depending on the date of recording. UK copyright law changed in November 2013 extending terms of copyright in sound recordings non-retroactively from 50 to 70 years. Under this new law, recordings made in 1963 or later remain in copyright until 1st January 2034 while recordings made in 1962 or before are in the public domain.[4]

The tracks that Delia recorded in 1962 are Mattachin, Towards Tomorrow, Time On Our Hands, City Music, Science Serves the Arts, Arabic Science and Industry and Closed Planet.

EU law

The EU Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, 22 May 2001[5] affords to authors, performers, phonogram producers, film makers and broadcasting organisations:

the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part: for authors, of their works; for performers, of fixations of their performances; for phonogram producers, of their phonograms; for the producers of the first fixations of films and copies of them; for broadcasting organisations, of fixations of their broadcasts by wire or over the air.[5]

and, to the same five groups

the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit (for authors:) communication or (for the other four:) the making available to the public of their works.

The makeup sounds that Delia made at the BBC during the preparation of her pieces may be covered by Article 5, 2.(d):

in respect of ephemeral recordings of works made by broadcasting organisations by means of their own facilities and for their own broadcasts; the preservation of these recordings in official archives may, on the grounds of their exceptional documentary character, be permitted;

The rest of the WikiDelia hides under the broad exceptions in Article 5, paragraphs 2(c):

in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries or archives, which are not for economic or commercial advantage


use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated

and 3(d):

quotations for purposes such as criticism or review, provided that they relate to a work or other subject-matter which has already been lawfully made available to the public, including the author's name, provided that the use is in accordance with fair practice, and to the extent required by the specific purpose

As far as accessing Delia's tapes is concerned, the John Rowlands Library at Manchester University is covered by the exception in Article 5 paragraph 3(n):

communication or making available, for the purpose of research or private study, to individual members of the public by dedicated terminals on the premises of establishments referred to in paragraph 2(c) of works and other subject-matter not subject to purchase or licensing terms which are contained in their collections

and can let you sit and listen to her tapes.