Upcoming changes

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Gschladt
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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Gschladt » Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:57 pm

I don't want to underestimate the work made by IMSLP volunteers, quite to the contrary, I think they are all doing an amazing job, and yes, there a unique and rare scores or editions on the site, for sure. I'm sorry if my reply sounded like I don't think their contribution is valuable. However, I will just add that there is a difference between owning rare pieces and uploading them, and actually researching, tracking through archives, digging up old pieces of music, getting the authorization and funding to consult the manuscripts, etc.

For example. As a student of early music, IMSLP has not been my primary source for scores (it has been for about everything 1750s and after), as there isn't that much of that kind of music on the site (and especially not manuscripts and credible editions), and the ones there are are motsly from other free online collections. So my concern is simply that without incentive and without other institutions doing the work, there are tons and tons of music that would never see the light of day again. So I wouldn't be so quick saying that there should never be a moral obligation to pay for a public domain work, and passing judgements on the fact that scholars get paid to do what they do. Musicology is more than just scanning scores.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby recorder485 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:04 am

I have not read all the posts in this thread by any means, but I have read the first page and think I've gotten the general sense of the reaction to this proposal. In reply, I will simply make a number of observations, more or less in random order, as they occur to me.

Full disclosure: I am a music editor/publisher who produces scholarly 'urtext' editions of public domain works of the Baroque period. (That does NOT mean I make any money from this venture; my so-called profit-loss ratio is approximately 150:3000, meaning I have spent about twenty times as much as I have earned (gross) over the last three years. Will this business ever make any money? I doubt it, but I don't much care. I am primarily concerned with contributing to musical scholarship and promoting the music of underappreciated composers and repertoires.)

All of my editions are based upon autographs, contemporary manuscripts, or first editions, and IMSLP is the obvious first go-to when beginning a search for these source materials. That is not so much because it is free, but because it is the most easily accessible data-base around. If I have to search RISM and World Cat to find something not available on IMSLP, I then have to get in touch with the holding libraries, and that means a delay of several days to several weeks (or months) before I can obtain the source material. It also sometimes means I will find that the only surviving authentic source is held by a so-called 'public' library which charges very high fees for copying (the British Library and the NYPL Music Division are among the worst offenders in this sense. I recently paid £35 for photocopies of a set of overtures, and I have a good friend, a world-famous Baroque violinist, who was obliged to pay the British Library several hundred dollars US to obtain material he needed for his doctoral thesis). This offends my sense of what a public library is supposed to be, even though I recognise that public libraries are not funded by their governments as they should be.

Interestingly, my experience with university libraries--in theory, private institutions whose primary mandate is to serve the students of their universities--is different. To mention just a few, McGill University, the University of Michigan, The Eastman School of Music at Rochester, and Yale University, are open to all and charge nothing for digital files and a mere pittance (25 cents per page!) for physical photocopies. Why 'public' libraries such as the BL, New York Public, or the Library of Congress, should charge hundreds of dollars for copies while private university libraries should offer their holdings free to anyone is a mystery that I cannot fathom.

For years, I have assumed (wrongly, it turns out) that IMSLP was a 'spin-off' of the Wikimedia foundation and was supported by the funding that organisation generates (which is substantial). Now that I know better, I am somewhat staggered. Even if it is theoretically possible for one unpaid man to manage the database, it costs money to maintain servers and hook them into the internet, and if IMSLP can't raise enough funding to pay for even that, the whole thing will fall into the oubliette.

Selling advertising to support 'free' services such as broadcast television and radio (and now You Tube) is a long-standing business model, even though it is anathema to many of us. I would far rather pay a small annual fee than have to avert my eyes and ears from a moronic ad for Febreeze or some equally disgusting product that the world would be far better off not having at all. (The 'pain' is thus isolated to a single annual event--paying the subscription--instead of recurring every time I want to watch a video of a Bach cantata or Scarlatti sonata.) But the advertising industry is predicated upon pure numbers, and it is not going to change because a relative handful of music scholars think quality should predominate over quantity. And there is an additional danger in the internet age: If IMSLP starts selling advertising, the crap we are likely to see on the site will include crap based upon users' browsing histories (and, for those foolish enough to use a G-mail address, upon the actual content of their private e-mail correspondence, because Google READS AND ANALYSES EVERY E-MAIL YOU SEND OR RECEIVE!).

Music librarians have been concerned with the existence of IMSLP for some time. My contact at one of the major university libraries I deal with on a regular basis mentioned to me that the practise of people copying materiel from libraries and then uploading them to IMSLP was becoming 'controversial.' The legal issues are vague when dealing with 300-year-old manuscripts--are we talking about Grand Rights, or image ownership rights?--but the implication is clear: for libraries which derive some (much needed) revenue from the copying of manuscripts or first editions they have paid to obtain, having that material made available for free elsewhere is undeniably problematic. In consequence, I feel it is unethical for me to upload copies of scores or parts I have obtained from various libraries to IMSLP, even though the actual content of that material is in the public domain. There are no simple answers to questions of this sort.

The concept of a totally free and unrestricted data-base for public-domain music is Utopian, but there are reasons that Utopia hasn't taken over the world. In general, people are greedy, lazy, and selfish, and the few of us who aren't canNOT compete with the huge mass of those who are. It is a sad fact, but it is a fact nonetheless.

Final thought: There is an old acronym popularised by the science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It is this: TANSTAAFL, and it means, 'There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.' Whatever you get in this life, there is a price to pay for it. If it is billed as 'Free', the actual price is likely to be higher than what you would be willing to pay if it were simply offered for sale.

I don't know if my maunderings will be useful to IMSLP in determining its future course, but I offer them as is, for what they are worth. If I need to subscribe to IMSLP to keep it going, I probably will. The LAST thing I want to see on the IMSLP site is an advert for a shampoo or an oriental dating site.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby coulonnus » Sat Jan 30, 2016 2:39 pm

What some imslp "visitors" said December 30:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?hl=fr&as_q=imslp++%22Musicians+are+made+to+wait%22&as_epq&as_oq&as_eq&as_nlo&as_nhi&lr&cr&as_qdr=m&as_sitesearch&as_occt&safe=images&as_filetype&as_rights&&ct=clnk&q=cache:RP1iMs25hj8J:http://slippedisc.com/2015/12/musicians-are-made-to-wait-as-free-site-goes-pay-for/%2Bimslp++%22Musicians+are+made+to+wait%22

These people may not qualify for "users" in the sense that they didn't sign up to imslp and may not contribute to it.

The article is longish but you will notice that quite a few "visitors" will be ready to pay a fee for imslp usage.

This page comes from the Google cache. This article that was Reference No.3 on the imslp Wikipedia page has been replaced by a detestable commercial page today. Don't ask me who did that. :-(

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Rob Peters » Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:40 pm

Coulonnus, the fact that most regular (non-contributing) users have no problem with either the 15-seconds delay or a payed subscription doesn't come as a surprise. A subscription is still dirt cheap compared to the traditional ways of acquiring sheet music, as many people in this thread have pointed out. So, no problem there.
The problem is that these regular users don't know much about the internal structure of IMSLP and the way scores are submitted here. To them it's a welcome and cheap service, nothing more. They compare the service that IMSLP offers to that of the various commercial sheet music sites out there, and seen in that light IMSLP is still a great alternative.
But they're not aware that every score here is submitted by volunteers, who don't get a dime for their hard work, but are confronted with the fact that their work is being monetized without their consent. If they knew, they'd probably less positive about the recent changes.
So there's a big discrepancy between the point of view of contributors and users here. If the majority of the comments under that article weren't written by regular users but by the backbone of IMSLP (the contributors) the general tone would be much, much more negative.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby coulonnus » Sat Jan 30, 2016 4:31 pm

Rob Peters wrote:But they're not aware that every score here is submitted by volunteers, who don't get a dime for their hard work, but are confronted with the fact that their work is being monetized without their consent.

You don't specify if you mean CC scores (modern or retypeset), for which there is no delay, or the PD scanned scores which don't require such a hard work.

Perhaps things would become simpler if imslp would split in 2 sites, one for each category. The CC site would have no banner, delay etc. ;-)

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Gschladt » Sat Jan 30, 2016 6:48 pm

Coulonnus

The CC scores are already exempted from the delay.

coulonnus wrote: or the PD scanned scores which don't require such a hard work.


Have you ever scanned every page of a 300+ pages Mahler symphony score, plus every page of every of the 50 instrumental parts (which range from 8 to 40+ pages)?

Do you know how much time that is? How much work it is to ensure the scan is good quality, that you don't have missing pages, or pages that are out of alignment?

That work would be worth a lot of money if IMSLP had to pay is contributors.

The point is, IMSLP is now monetizing a "product" which A) arguably shouldn't be seen as a product or consumer good, and B) has been built by years of work by hundreds of volunteers who thought their uploads would never be monetized by IMSLP. Is it legal? Possibly, although as I said before, contributors could potentially sue IMSLP on the basis of vice of consent. But it certainly isn't ethical. Also, as mentioned earlier, IMSLP hosts at least a number of stolen files which were uploaded without their owners' consent (scans from other libraries or databases that were not acquired legally), and those are now monetized too. This puts IMSLP on even shakier moral grounds.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Rob Peters » Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:36 pm

coulonnus wrote:
Rob Peters wrote:Perhaps things would become simpler if imslp would split in 2 sites, one for each category. The CC site would have no banner, delay etc. ;-)

It isn't just simpler, it's absolutely necessary, in my opinion.
Like Gschladt writes, IMSLP has sailed into murky juridical waters, since the subscription model complicates and compromises the legal status of both the site itself and its content.
My main concern is that the regular users of IMSLP can't be expected to know the difference between the various juridical tags attached to the files, PD, CC-SA, CC-NC etc. Your regular user will enter the site, try a couple of files, not bothering with the tags at all, get the 15-seconds delay and the subscription banner, and is enticed to buy a subscription, even if it isn't clear what kind of files he/she wants to download.
I can think of a situation where someone who already has payed for a subscription proceeds to download mostly CC-NC scores - and thinks he has payed for the right to download those without delay too. In such a case, one could argue a user is indirectly paying for Non-Commercial content, which should be a big, fat no-no.
And then of course there's the issue of the (im)morality of monetizing volunteer work, which has been discussed in detail in this thread already.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby davidh » Sun Jan 31, 2016 1:18 am

I am new to IMSLP. I did not find the 15 second wait to be any concern. The files loaded as they should. This service is terrific.

Reading through the comments submitted regarding membership reads like something from The Onion. Seriously folks, $1.90 / month, $22.80 / year, is not worth all the handwringing and tears I see here. There was one post with this comment: "...I am largely not a voluntary user of this site, and charging me to use the site means I'll be making incrementally less money from gigs that already don't pay well enough." So first of all you still can get the downloads for free, just have to wait a bit. Second, exactly what percentage less / gig are we talking about? Perhaps you need to renegotiate your deals.

I realize that many musicians operate on a shoestring budget but if you can't afford $22.80 / year for a premier service to easily provide scores you need to revisit your business model.

I'm frankly appalled at the innuendos that the reputation of the service will suffer because Edward is asking for a minimal membership to help cover costs of running this site. Reading through his responses, it is quite apparent that Edward is a concerned businessman dealing with issues running this business that the readers are not aware of and many seem to not care about either. He has bent over backward to accommodate contributors with membership and then still allows the service to be used for free if you can tolerate the 15 second delay.

I'm not entirely sure why Edward feels the need to explain himself in such detail but assume this endeavor has grown as a community effort with Edward providing the means for the community to exist. Enterprises change as they grow and the demands that those enterprises make change as well. A reasonable means of consistently raising money to operate the business is part of any business model, even the most charitable such as this one.

The comment about not contributing because it might go to pay employees..., what an outrage! Do you work for free?

I get the feeling that the earth must revolve around a very different axis here than anywhere else in the world. If I am off base in my comments here it is perhaps because I've dealt with business world my whole career, not the music world.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby coulonnus » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:12 pm

Gschladt wrote:Have you ever scanned every page of a 300+ pages Mahler symphony score, plus every page of every of the 50 instrumental parts (which range from 8 to 40+ pages)?
Do you know how much time that is? How much work it is to ensure the scan is good quality, that you don't have missing pages, or pages that are out of alignment?

Well, I concede scanning is almost as big a toil as typesetting!

When I do either job I do something useful for me and it is so easy to let others benefit from it!
Gschladt wrote:The point is, IMSLP is now monetizing a "product" which A) arguably shouldn't be seen as a product or consumer good, and B) has been built by years of work by hundreds of volunteers who thought their uploads would never be monetized by IMSLP.

Well, it would have been nicer if imslp had first requested donations in the Wikipedia or archive.org manner.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby coulonnus » Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:25 pm

Gschladt wrote:[...]Also, as mentioned earlier, IMSLP hosts at least a number of stolen files which were uploaded without their owners' consent (scans from other libraries or databases that were not acquired legally), and those are now monetized too. This puts IMSLP on even shakier moral grounds.

Scans imported from other libraries should be treated like CC scores, as already commented.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Gschladt » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:57 pm

coulonnus wrote:Scans imported from other libraries should be treated like CC scores, as already commented.


But they're not. Also, I'm not taking about scores imported from libraries, I'm telling about scores scanned or copied from libraries and uploaded on IMSLP without their authorization.

Such files arguably shouldn't be on the site in the first place, now that they are being monetized and Mr. Guo has shown no intention to change the situation, it's, to me, unacceptably unethical.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Boccaccio » Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:35 pm

But they're not. Also, I'm not taking about scores imported from libraries, I'm telling about scores scanned or copied from libraries and uploaded on IMSLP without their authorization.

Such files arguably shouldn't be on the site in the first place, now that they are being monetized and Mr. Guo has shown no intention to change the situation, it's, to me, unacceptably unethical.


While I am also strictly against the monetarization of IMSLP and IMSLP being run as a single-person business, I disagree on the point about the scores scanned by other libraries. If a library such as the SLUB Dresden digitalizes its music manusrcipts and makes them freely available on the internet, there is nothing wrong about taking a copy of the files and putting it on another website. First of all, the SLUB does not make any money with the file anyway, so having it available somewhere else does not do any financial damage to the library in the first place. Second, by having the file somewhere else, the SLUB actually will have less people downloading the file from their server, so they need to spend less money on bandwidth.

Obviously, the moral point of selling a product that somebody else has made available for free is another issue (that I do not want to discuss here). At the same time, on each IMSLP site that has such a SLUB file, you find the direct link to the original SLUB webpage where you can get the score for free (and within less than 15 seconds).

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Gschladt » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:07 pm

That is why I'm not talking about files imported from other libraries, but scores that contributors physically took from libraries, scanned, and then uploaded, often without the library even knowing. In some cases, scores that are not made available for free by the library.

Also, in a specific case I referred to in earlier posts on this thread, files that were not available on the public site of a research institution, but were hosted in secret sectios of their site, that were accessed without authorization by a IMSLP contributor, then uploaded on IMSLP, and when asked by the institution to please take down the files (which were acquired illegally and thus constitute stolen goods), Mr. Guo basically told them he wouldn't, because he didn't legally have to, and it's just too bad for them if they had to spend time, human resources and money to access and scan the original manuscripts.

My point being, among all the scores on IMSLP that do NOT link to libraries where they were already available for free, we have no way of knowing which ones were acquired legally and which ones were not. We know of at least one confirmed case of a batch of stolen files being uploaded and not taken down, there certainly are others. We have mentions earlier in this thread of librarians feeling uncomfortable seeing scores they own being scanned and uploaded without authorization.

It's already dubious from a moral perspective to host the files, but it's certainly completely wrong to do so when the site is being monetized.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Gschladt » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:12 pm

I would add, EVEN if the files are available for free from a library's online collection, unless IMSLP has a deal and authorization to mirror the files, i think we should not be putting them on IMSLP (why not only link to their website instead of hosting a copy of the actual file), the reason being, you don't know how this library is run. Scanning and uploading files, for them, costs money, because their employees are paid. They get funding to do so, based on the fact they convinced boards and administrators that offering digital copies of sites was a relevant service. The less people visit their site, the less likely it is they get funding for expanding the site and uploading more scores. If they stop uploading scores, it isn't good for anyone.

There is no simple answer to these questions, as with the dangers of uploading scholarly editions in the risk that we could kill that business, thus preventing much needed research and new, better editions in the future. But as another user wisely noted, we should be very careful and think long-term.

In any case, maybe it's my Canadian side showing, but I think it's always more respectful to ask the library first if they're OK with it.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Boccaccio » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:31 pm

I don't know any details about the case where files which were not supposed to be accessible have been downloaded from a library and put on IMSLP but I feel that there are two options:
1. The library had the files somewhere on their computer where it really was not accessible from the outside unless you hack into the system. In this case, the "downloader" would have acted illegally and the case is clear.
2. The library put the files where there was no direct link pointing to them but you could still (by accident/analogy with other files/...) download the files provided you managed to find them. In this case, it's the library who is to blame. What do want to keep private, you don't put online anywhere.

About the mirroring of libraries at IMSLP I have a different opinion. I think it's best to keep information in as many places as possible. As the case of IMSLP just shows us these days, you never know what happens to your source at some point in the future, so it is always a good idea to have a backup.


The other point about people going into a library and making a scan there is more subtle. At the same time, if the library allows people to make a scan, they have to live with this scan taking its own "life" and ending up e.g. at IMSLP eventually.


Anyway, I feel we are drifting a bit apart from the original topic of the thread. What I really would like to know these days is:

Is there any concrete plan of Edward to make IMSLP into a community-owned project or does he want to keep it his own private business?


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