While attempting to do some hunting around for public domain scores earlier this week, I was greeted by the following message from the IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project):
On Saturday October 13, 2007, I received a second Cease and Desist letter from Universal Edition. At first I thought this letter would be similar in content to the first Cease and Desist letter I received in August. However, after lengthy discussions with very knowledgeable lawyers and supporters, I became painfully aware of the fact that I, a normal college student, has neither the energy nor the money necessary to deal with this issue in any other way than to agree with the cease and desist, and take down the entire site. I cannot apologize enough to all IMSLP contributors, who have done so much for IMSLP in the last two years.
This is a real bummer, but unfortunately not a surprising outcome given the "progressive" (ha!) nature of the music publishing industry. The publisher’s tactic to put a legal project out of business? Bury them in paperwork.
Wikipedia has a great summary of the lofty goals of this project:
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) was a project for the creation of a virtual library of public domain music scores, based on the wiki principle. Since its launch on February 16, 2006, more than 15000 scores, for 9000 works, by over 1000 composers were uploaded, making it one of the largest public domain music score collections on the web. The project used the popular MediaWiki software to provide contributors with a familiar interface.
The library consisted mainly of scans of old musical editions out of copyright. In addition, it admitted scores by contemporary composers who wished to share their music with the world by releasing it under a Creative Commons license. One of the main projects of IMSLP was the sorting and uploading of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach in the Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe (1851-1899). Beside J.S. Bach’s, Frédéric Chopin’s nearly complete oeuvre was available on IMSLP.
Besides providing a digital repository, IMSLP offered possibilities as a musicological encyclopaedia, since multiple and historical editions of a single composition could be uploaded, and musicological analyses and historical commentaries accompany the scores.
IMSLP had been officially recommended by MIT, which also used it extensively in some of its OpenCourseWare courses. It was suggested as a resource by university libraries at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Stanford University, McGill University, Brown University, University of Maryland, University of New Mexico, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Madison, California Institute of the Arts, and several others, and it had been submitted to MERLOT by a member professor.[17
My only hope is that someone else will take up the torch for this cause (not me–I’ve got my hands quite full with bass world projects, thank you very much!). After all, there are more of us than there are of them. It really irks me that a public domain and Creative Commons project was shut down like this. Where is the Electronic Frontier Foundation when you need them?
- News from the music blogosphere
- Josh Nemith featured on Chris Foley’s Pagecast
- Doublebassblog.org makes the New Yorker
- Frank Zappa on the decline of the music industry
- Interact with Ranaan Meyer and the Time for Three guys