Second U-E cease and desist letter (new topic)

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Second U-E cease and desist letter (new topic)

Postby imslp » Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:52 pm

I won't say much right now; I have went through a long day, and need sleep desperately. In any case, I just wanted to notify everyone that I have moved the U-E cease and desist letter to the forums server, and you can find it here:

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Postby neilthecellist » Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:05 am

*sigh*. Did they really have to do this?

Where do you live? I'm in Southern California.... Pretty all much dad's friends are lawyers.

Even stranger is that my public high school used to use IMSLP a lot. And as a public high school, we're associated with the US federal government, how could some corporation try to sue you?? (I mean that in a sympathetic way, not as an attack).

Life isn't fair! :(

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Postby Carolus » Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:18 am

You have to understand that IMSLP is a completely volunteer project. Unlike Wikipedia or Gutenburg, there is no foundation in place to fund the costs associated with keeping things going. Feldmahler, IMSLP's founder, was paying for the server out of his own pocket. All of the considerable work involved in the construction and upkeep of IMSLP was the pure voluntary work of Feldmahler and the other generous contributors here - done solely out of love for music and a desire to make it freely accessible. There was no well-heeled Toronto law firm on retainer, and even the relatively minimal legal fees involved in defending IMSLP using the kind pro-bono legal assistance from the University of Ottawa Law School was far beyond the capability of most single individuals. Over and above the time and costs involed in defending against lawsuits, there's also the enormous amount of time and energy involved in the administration and maintenence of the whole enterprise.

Universal Edition's behavior here is frankly abominable and disgusting. It's something one would expect more from a phony enterprise owned by the North Jersey mob than from a classical music publisher. Of all the sites where printed music is available for download, IMSLP was virtually alone in actively discouraging copyright infringement by informing the end user about the copyright status of works in various countries and by quickly removing files posted that are under copyright around the world. That's not enough for the Vienna mob, though. They insisted that IMSLP actually block access from users in the EU and the USA. Apparently, IMSLP was chosen as a target for legal harassment because it was truthful about the copyright status of works posted there, and because an association of EU music publishers basically wanted IMSLP put out of operation.

One of UE's complaints concerned works of Bela Bartok that are still protected in the USA being downloadable for those accessing IMSLP from the US (this despite the fact that there are numerous explict warnings about these works' US copyright status). UE really had no standing to complain about this as the rights for Bartok's works are controlled by Boosey and Hawkes, Inc. for at least the USA - and possibly for all of North America. (UE controls the rights for the rest of the world, wherever Bartok's works are still under copyright.)

It's a very sad day, to be sure. I don't blame Feldmahler in any way for this, for the UE C & D letter was likely merely the leading edge of what would have been a concentrated, well-funded legal war of attrition to close down IMSLP. With copyright terms being continually expanded, the war upon the public domain being carried out by large corporate concerns, their hired guns in the legal profession and paid-for politicians is well under way. Sadly, IMSLP has become another casulty, despite our brave efforts.

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Postby emeraldimp » Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:56 am

Feldmahler, I will never curse, flame or otherwise deride you as a failed project leader. Your project succeeded, better than anyone could have expected. Your amazing work helped to bring it this far; that small-minded people concerned only with money have brought it down is a testament to the serious stupidity the world is currently awash in.

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. You have done the world a service and its good has reached many thousands of people.

I have hundreds of pieces yet to scan, and even if I must host them on my own server at home, I will continue the work you started, if only in my small way.

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Postby Funper » Sat Oct 20, 2007 2:10 am

Feldmahler, we could have helped you with the money part. I admit, it is not all about money and studies take up a lot of time.

Maybe you should contact the Wikimedia Foundation? Lending the project to them would certainly make this live forever.

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Postby TubaMan » Sat Oct 20, 2007 2:18 am

To all concerned,

While I am new to this board, I have been using the IMSLP for quite some time. I have used it as a resource for students at several universities. I just wanted to say that I do hope this will continue somehow. To the person who has created this, bravo! What a wonderful resource. Too bad the few felt the need to ruin things for the many.


Tim Olt
Tim Olt
Wittenberg University

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Postby horndude77 » Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:37 am

There was never a site I was happier to have contributed to. (I've been a slow but steady contributor I think.) I don't think IMSLP failed at all. It obviously got the attention of some people who didn't like it. What better confirmation of its success than that!

Really, music publishers need to offer more than just copies of public domain music if they want to do well in this day and age. I think many do. Dover for example offers very nice bindings of scores and I doubt IMSLP affects them in any way. For me personally IMSLP is just more convenient than a normal library when all I want to do is listen to a piece and watch the score at the same time.

Also IMSLP showed that many people working together who are passionate about a subject can accomplish so much in a short amount of time. There has never been anything close to IMSLP. It's really a testament to the community model of development.

Feldmahler I fault you in no way. Thanks for all that you have done. I've learned a lot about copyright law (time to write my representatives!) and got exposed to some great music. I think it grew faster than one person could manage however. And this brought the underhanded tactics of those only worried about money.

In any case I hope something can be salvaged at some point. I guess we need to decide where to go from here.

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Postby indutrial » Sat Oct 20, 2007 5:32 am

I'm new to the forum but I browsed IMSLP on many occasions and will sorely miss being able to do that in the future. It's really upsetting considering UE's ridiculous motivations, which I'm assuming are nothing short of an inane business hope that every student/teacher/etc.. who wants to study Bartok or perform Janacek is going to order a glossy new score from them instead of, well, going to the library or finding it some other way that doesn't cost money. Someone mentioned that publishers would be better off sticking with a focus on new music, but I'm pretty sure that this would accelerate their demise (which I really think is overdue in our new electronic age). I'm pretty sure a lot of these sheet music companies are flailing a bit and make almost all of their profits off of the classics up to and including the early 20th century pieces. At least that makes it understandable that they resort to extra-legal bullying to defend their meal tickets. After all business will always be business. I, for one, will never be caught dead buying one of their crap scores ever again after this low, reprehensible behavior.

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Postby yinzzzz » Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:20 am

Feldmahler, I shud say that my friends and thank you sooooo much for your great site, the coolest site in the music cyber world and making all those hard to find music sheets available for ppl from all over the world.
That 2nd Cease n Desist Letter is the most yucky thing I ever read in these few days.
Countless of ppl from all over the world have found this site very useful so far.
There are a large number of music scores or sheet music which are not available in my country. The list of the music books in the store is really not complete. We can say that it"s sumthing rare.. Lol..
We have to go abroad to buy it if we need it and of course you can imagine, how much a few sheets wud cost us.Even if when we paid for becoming member of some online music sheets provider, we cudn"t always find wut we were looking for.

Today I found that "404 Error" on my window when trying to open the site. It"s a bit stressful cuz I really love piano very much. I wanna have as much scores as I can.

Some mean and corrupted ppl had caused bankruptcy to my dad"s business years ago. That"s why reading those Cease n Desist wutever letter really made me sick!!!!!!!!!

Why shud they bother bout copyright yet in their some editions there are also some misprinted things.

I wonder who makes the more money, the publisher with copyright thingy or the composers..

:x :x

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Postby aldona » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:04 am

I wonder who makes the more money, the publisher with copyright thingy or the composers..

Usually when a composer is alive, trying to get their music published is like trying to get blood out of a they die young in poverty and obscurity...and then after their death, the publishers start to circle like vultures and pick off anything they can, especially if the composer leaves no dependants who can claim copyright royalties (Schubert fan speaking here!), all the while sanctimoniously lecturing us about "intellectual property" and "artists getting a fair reward for their work." :evil:

Most of the major publishing houses are still going strong after 200-300+ years in the business and dealing with all the major composers along the way.

Most of the composers barely made enough to survive and in many cases ended up buried in a pauper's grave.

You do the math.

“all great composers wrote music that could be described as ‘heavenly’; but others have to take you there. In Schubert’s music you hear the very first notes, and you know that you’re there already.” - Steven Isserlis

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Postby Kalli » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:54 am

If I understood the letter, the main problem is, that you can't be sure to fulfill the copyright in each case, isn't it? If there is an agreement to enlarge the protection over 70 years after the composers death, you are getting troubles. Wherefrom could a normal person know something about such agreements?

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sad demise

Postby matteo » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:59 am

Well, this is a sad state of affairs. I joined this forum on learning about the sad demise of IMSLP. I wish there were something one could do.

What a wonderful, valuable site! Feldmahler, your initial intention in creating the site was admirable in every way and you certainly created one of the most useful and valuable music resources on the internet. I would quite happily have paid a subscription to have been able to download scores and I expect this is true for others too.

Now, when I want a particular score, I am again reduced to the expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes fruitless endeavor of hunting the internet, browsing through second-hand book-shops, and pestering major book-sellers to order the blasted things - if they are even in print. And sometimes it takes weeks for the desired score to arrive. Or one has to buy a whole collection of things just to get at one piece. Bah!

And what a blow against culture! Universal Edition must be said to be anti-music. This is just yet another example of big business strangling modern culture. Large corporations with shed loads of money are able to enforce their will irrespective of the actual right or wrong of the situation. Their favorite practice is barratry - (using legal actions to harass) - which is illegal in some US states (only a misdemeanor in CA). Even the threat of legal action is intimidating. Justice is supposed to be blind - but I think rather that she is in the pay of the individuals and entities that can afford her meretricious services.

I am sorry that Universal Edition has unleashed the dogs of war on you. The sad thing is that whatever potential copyright infringements they were worried about, their actions have guillotined the free and fair dispersal of many works in the public domain.

When photocopying first came out - there was a huge fuss about trying to stop people from copying copyrighted works. In public libraries one was supposed to pay a few pennies for fair use. But that all fizzled out and book sales didn't crash. And then with the internet, came the ability to access and copy even more copyrighted works!

I remember all the initial fuss about the "illegal" downloading of music, (copyright infringement), the showcase trials and all that. In the end, however, it was demonstrated to the music industry that free downloading sometimes actually helps bands in particular and music in general. Radio Head, for instance, has maintained their successful position by offering free downloads of their music. They still get huge CD sales and massive attendance at their performances. And they're not even signed to a label! Could it be that the majority of copyright laws exist to protect corporations' profits rather than artists' rights?

It is interesting to note that as a civilization we don't look after our great artists very well - take a look at the number of obvious geniuses who struggled terribly in life and then died young and broke!

IMSLP must have put the wind up at least one big corporation! Haha - running scared for their profits. I assume that they were more worried about shareholders' dividends than any kind of contribution to the well-being of this planet.

It would seem that we have here the age old battle of culture vs mammon. And who usually wins? It is really too bad that we cannot somehow protect this site and its legal activities against this sort of scurrilous onslaught. Is there not some ISP beyond their legal reach? Does the First Amendment count for nothing? Is there not some legal solution? I don't know the answers, but in the interests of music, (and basic human rights) large music publishers should support this kind of site. If they weren't so short-sighted, they would see that they could in fact benefit (even financially) from such a valuable resource as IMSLP.

Congratulations for having created IMSLP! May it rise again from the ashes like a Phoenix!
"Je voudrais lui voler la manière de rendre mes propres études..." Chopin said of Liszt, ("I would like to steal his way of playing my own études.")

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Postby Witold » Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:59 am

This is a sad day.

This site has been such a valuable resource. When I found it, it was the first time ever that I used the "add to favorites" button in my browser. And I did this without hesitation. Personally, I do not really care about the scores by the composers UE reacted at, I can find those scores in my public library. But I am certainly going to miss access to all those scores by composers who are long since forgotten and who aren't published anymore. I had spent many interesting hours playing through them in front of my computer. I hope those scores are kept safe and that it will be possible for you to share them with us in some way before UE sends an assault team to destroy your servers.

UE's reaction was of course expected. Publishers haven't really made any effort to adapt to the changing world around them, instead they make great efforts at keeping things as they were. The way that they sell reprints of old scores by public domain composers at full price is ridiculous. With the internet and it's possibilities of sharing anything that is public domain, they will not be able to keep this up. At the moment, most large publishers live on selling music that is public domain. The part of their income that comes from copyrighted composers is insignificant compared to their sales of the old giants. I was hoping that sites like IMSLP could change this. If publishers cannot survive by selling public domain material, they would have to start focusing on the present and promoting material by living composers. Right now they ignore most living composers and only approach the very few most promising young composers with insane contracts. I've heard of contracts offered where the publisher would get 80% of the royalties from all of the composers score sales and performances/broadcasts. As a result, many young composers have also found out the possibilities of the internet and turned to self publishing. As a composer myself, I'm not the least interested in getting signed by a publisher, heard to many sad stories by colleagues on how they have been stripped of all rights and restricted from using their own music.

Sooner or later we'll be in the situation where all undisputedly legal scores (death+70 years) are available for free on the internet and regularly attained in this way. No publisher can stop this. At this point a purchased score is worth no more than the binding of the book itself, and this is not worth 50€... If publishers haven't renewed their business models by then, they will go under.

Peter wrote:I think there are only two options:

1. restart, but with stricter copyright laws

I vote for this option!

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Postby Witold » Sat Oct 20, 2007 8:40 am

Feldmahler wrote:Another major reason behind me taking the server down is the fact, which I have been made painfully aware of in the last few days, that I can no longer support IMSLP adequately.

I perfectly understand this. It has became a huge project, which doesn't run itself for free.

Feldmahler wrote:In addition, I will be willing to help and transfer the five IMSLP domain names to any organization who would like to continue IMSLP in some form or other; please contact me via if you are interested.

Just throwing out a business proposal for anyone who is interested in preserving the cultural values of this site, and get food on their tables while doing so: Keep the site as it is, with the possibility for free download of any public domain scores. To avoid further legal issues, restrict the scores to death + 70 years, or install ip filters. Fund the upkeep of the site and any required army of lawyers by offering to send printed and bound copies of any work, or collection of works, anywhere in the world, at a REASONABLE price. Let the customers create their own customized collections. This activity would probably piss off the publishers even more, but if there was a few full time employees making sure that all material on the site is legal, then the publishers couldn't do anything about it. Or could they?

There is of course the question, will submitters allow profit to be made on the scores submitted by them... And will people be willing to help a company make money by submitting for free... As long as the company allows free download of all submitted material and the main purpose of the site would remain as providing the world with free sheet music, not filling the owner's pockets with money, I would not mind, but perhaps someone else would...

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Postby theoneandonly » Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:00 am

Please, please tell me that you've at least got a backup of the database left. :(
A restart will be a lot easier with it. I think with that amount of data and above all with that many supporters a restart of imslp will happen very soon.

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