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Alex Chandler

Releasing new database of Violin Auctions. Beta testers desired!

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I am releasing a large database of instruments including maker name, year built, price sold, date sold. Below is a link to the database. Due to the uncompressed data taking 40 gigabytes of storage, I will only be releasing the database without image data at this time. My goal is to increase knowledge of the violin trade through the eyesight of statistics.

If one would like to provide critique or help in the project, below are desired questions regarding the database.
1. Accuracy: What information is wrong? Are there any systematic errors in the database? Is the price sold data accurate? 
2. Generality: Where does the database fail in representing the entire violin trade (trade and contemporary instruments for example)?
3. Future work: What can be done with this database? What unanswered question is the violin trade ?
4. Accessibility: What is the best way to increase sharing this information? What method of sharing leads to the largest number of people being able to benefit from my data collection? Who is interested in having photo data and what is the preferred method for large file transfers?
5. Thought?


 

 

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21 minutes ago, Alex Chandler said:

5. Thought?

If you obtained this data from copyrighted sources without permission, then what you're doing is likely in violation of copyright laws.

I think you should consult an intellectual property attorney before you publish this.

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As I've suggested before :ph34r:...I  think the best use of data like this would be in a Wikipedia style format. Alphabetical by maker.  Then you can have a biography section followed by a listing of instruments if you wish.

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

If you obtained this data from copyrighted sources without permission, then what you're doing is likely in violation of copyright laws.

I think you should consult an intellectual property attorney before you publish this.

This is an important point, though I think the pictures (so far not shared) would be the biggest problem for Alex. While there are contexts in which it's acceptable to scrape the web and reproduce images online (see Google Images, for example), grabbing a bunch of images off a website like Tarisio and redistributing them as part of an instrument database would certainly be in violation of copyright law.

Sales price data is trickier -- information about individual sales is almost certainly unprotected, but collections of such data could still be copyrighted under particular circumstances.

So, yeah, best to exercise caution.

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I'm not sure what the purpose of this database is?

All the information is already available, and in a form which is easier to make sense of ... and in general only the most recent prices are worth knowing about.

Auction records are of very limited value to anyone other than an auction house, and if you start incorporating images then you will be in major breach of copyright,

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2 hours ago, Alex Chandler said:

Due to the uncompressed data taking 40 gigabytes of storage, I will only be releasing the database without image data at this time

you wouldn't put an image in a database, rather a link to an image stored elsewhere.  you could do that with no problem other than not having control over the images,  e.g. they could disappear.  if your database is useful information, some interesting programming would be to make a bot to periodically check your sources and automatically keep the list up to date

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Seems to me a few very important fields missing:
       The seller/auction house seems essential.

       Any comments on the condition should be included.

       Also, the attribution...eg is it a violin 'made by' Amati, or 'probably made by' Amati, or 'possibly made by' Amati.

        For higher end violins, the nickname (also apparently known as the 'Sobriquet') 

A few other things would probably be useful. Like what the label says, and what certificates exist. 

Also, maybe it's just the financial data analyst in me, but the auction premium should be captured. After all, the price the buyer ACTUALLY payed is after the auction premium, and these can vary from house to house and over time. 

As a long time data analyst, I can tell you that if you are scraping auction listings, capture ALL of the data now, and figure out what to do with it later. You will always want to go back and add fields, and it's much easier to do that if you don't have to rescrape each time. 

 

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You might call it Violin Approximate Pricing Objects Repository.  :ph34r:  :huh:  :lol:

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Another thing to bear in mind is that many violins which were at one time sold at auction end up for sale further down the line with dealers, and with a retail price tag.

If you add photos to your database, you will have to field endless demands from irate dealers and owners to remove data which doesn't belong to you and which interferes with their legitimate business.

It's tempting to think that all this scrapable information is somehow public domain, but it isn't. The auction houses who offer similar (though better organized) databases of instruments sold at auction are well aware that they are undermining the retail trade. If they thought that what they were doing was entirely legitimate, they wouldn't be so quick to remove things as soon as a dealer or owner asks them to do so.

 

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43 minutes ago, martin swan said:

If you add photos to your database, you will have to field endless demands from irate dealers and owners to remove data which doesn't belong to you and which interferes with their legitimate business.

And lawsuits.

43 minutes ago, martin swan said:

The auction houses who offer similar (though better organized) databases of instruments sold at auction are well aware that they are undermining the retail trade. If they thought that what they were doing was entirely legitimate, they wouldn't be so quick to remove things as soon as a dealer or owner asks them to do so.

Do the big auction houses remove data "as soon as a dealer or owner asks them to do so?"

The art world has published auction results forever, and I don't think they remove past sales data no matter who asks them to. I'd be surprised if the musical instrument auction houses would selectively remove sales records.

I also don't think that the art auctions are undermining the art retail trade.

11 hours ago, _Alex said:

Also, the attribution...eg is it a violin 'made by' Amati, or 'probably made by' Amati, or 'possibly made by' Amati.

Yes, and separating imports from benchmade when the maker/retailer sold both. Many times both of these are listed under the maker's name.

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5 hours ago, martin swan said:

It's tempting to think that all this scrapable information is somehow public domain, but it isn't. [...] If they thought that what they were doing was entirely legitimate, they wouldn't be so quick to remove things as soon as a dealer or owner asks them to do so.

I don't know what the law is like in the UK, but I can think of no law in the United States where Alex Chandler is located that would grant either a dealer or the owner of an instrument any kind of proprietary interest in historical sales data obtained from publicly-available sources.

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