DIAMM and IMSLP

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DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby imslp » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:01 am

I understand there is a significant amount of discussion on this topic (ironically, in places I don't have access to), so I thought it would be useful to open a thread here.

IMSLP is still reviewing the situation - here are a few preliminary remarks to kick the discussion off:
  • Can someone explain how this situation is different from the Wikipedia-NPG dispute? It is hard for us to see the difference. The result of that dispute is, as I understand, that Wikipedia still has all the images available, and NPG ended up licensing their images under a Creative Commons license a few years later.
  • I saw a paper titled "Public Domain Art in an Age of Easier Mechanical Reproducibility" referenced a few times in the Wikipedia-NPG dispute, and wanted to link to it here in case people are interested: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november05/hamma/11hamma.html
No need to limit responses to the above points; feel free to speak your mind.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby AndrewHankinson » Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:04 am

Thanks for opening the discussion thread. I have encouraged others to join as well.

Legally, you may be correct that the DIAMM and the NPG have, on the surface, many similarities. I am not a lawyer, and I don't even play one on TV! :D

However, morally I believe there are some very distinct differences. Let's first assume that both DIAMM and IMSLP want to work for the public good, and make these manuscripts available. I believe this is the case.

DIAMM is a digitization agent. They do the actual, physical work. It involves travel, real people, time, and lots and lots of money being spent on the physical process of capturing these images. It also involves hours of negotiation with hundreds of libraries. This takes time and energy. Julia estimates well over a million British pounds and a decade have been spent on creating their collection. That's a ton of money.

In return, they make their images available on their website FOR FREE. Anyone can register. Anyone can view the images. Anyone can study these images and use them for presentations or scholarship. You can even view them in very high quality (unlike the NPG images). There are very, very few restrictions on how you can use these images. About the only thing you must agree you will not do without permission is publish them for sale, or redistribute them outside of the DIAMM website.

The "for sale" thing is a tricky situation. Libraries actually OWN these manuscripts. They may not own the intellectual rights to works contained in them, but they own the physical objects. They also make a part of their (ever-dwindling) income on negotiating with authors for rights to re-publish parts of these objects. Nobody is getting rich here. These are very small audiences and print runs.

So, on the one hand DIAMM wants to make these images widely available, but on the other hand the libraries will not grant them access to these objects without some sort of protections in place that they can maintain publishing control over their images. DIAMM has built up a considerable amount of trust and cachet in the medieval manuscript world, and libraries are increasingly opening up their collections to digitization since DIAMM has demonstrated that they can be trusted with this type of agreement.

Also note that, according to some of these libraries, digital access is a privilege, not a right. Many of them consider that their mandate stops at the front door of their building. You can certainly consult the manuscript if you can make it there physically. So by shutting out DIAMM they are not actually removing access to the manuscript, just its digital representation.

Now we have a user that has taken it upon himself to "liberate" these works from the DIAMM site. Already this has had the effect of over 34 manuscripts (not just images, but complete volumes) having to have been pulled from the DIAMM site since DIAMM has, effectively, breached its contract with these libraries. This has also caused over 25,000 images due to be published on the DIAMM website to be delayed due to having to re-negotiate in light of this development. It is anticipated that other libraries, faced with the possibility of losing publication control will also request that their documents be withdrawn.

So, as I see it the situation here differs from the example you posted in a couple ways:

1) The National Portrait Gallery is one organization. The libraries that DIAMM partners with are spread all over the world. There is very little possibility that these images will see the light of day again if they are withdrawn from DIAMM, since the libraries still ultimately control access to them. If they haven't already adopted a CC license, this action certainly won't encourage them to do so.

2) The net effect of this action has *already* jeopardized more works than are currently available on IMSLP from DIAMM. So while IMSLP may wish to protect the public's access to these works, already this situation has had a net negative effect in terms of public access to medieval manuscripts. (This isn't accusatory, it's a statement of fact.)

3) In the NPG dispute, they were offering low resolution "previews", with high resolution available for sale. For DIAMM, you do not have to pay to view high resolution images. You do not have to pay to view any images. You only have to agree that you will negotiate with the library that owns the work if you are going to be offering images of their work for sale (in a book or other publication).

4) DIAMM is operated entirely out of grant money and of digitization agreements with partner libraries. They get very little other funding for their work. (Seriously -- I've been involved in several grant applications with them). The National Portrait Gallery is backed by the UK government. It is entirely likely that libraries will refuse to work with DIAMM in the future, which will have the effect of DIAMM shutting down. This will further impact public access to these materials.

So, in short: Whether or not it's copyrighted or blah blah blah -- that's really for the lawyers to figure out. I know DIAMM would rather spend money on digitizing than legal fees. I know IMSLP doesn't really need the headache or another copyright fight. You're both ultimately working for the same goal, but under very different circumstances in terms of actual costs and restrictions for accomplishing your mission. The effects of this dispute have already had a demonstrable negative effect on online access to these works (and jeopardized many people's scholarship), and I believe it will just get worse.

I believe the DIAMM images should be removed from IMSLP. Having them there is doing more harm than good, which should be the ultimate yardstick by which the defence of the public good is judged.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby kosboot » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:14 pm

With all due respect Andrew, I think it would be wise not just to read the Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_ ... ht_dispute
but also those articles mentioned in the links (some of the links in Wikipedia are broken; I've verified the ones below):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgeman ... Corel_Corp.
https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/lawr ... v.961(2007).pdf
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november05/hamma/11hamma.html

Moral right? I bet Europe would be much poorer if all those descendants of Jews asserted their moral right to their property (not just from World War II but the centuries prior to that). In fact it would be bankrupt. The acceptance of asserting a moral right would lead to world-wide anarchy.

As far as spending money on digitizing the images, I'm reminded of at least one contemporary thread in economics that leads people to believe if they pay more for something, they think it's worth more. So if one spends $1 million for something that costs $100, they erroneously think it's worth more.

Rather than fighting IMSLP (particularly lacking a sound legal basis), perhaps DIAMM should think of collaborating with IMSLP, which would greatly increase their exposure and might actually increase their revenue (from scholars wanting to pay the costs of digitizing material not yet available, and perhaps the beneficence of people learning about the institution).

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby imslp » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:35 pm

AndrewHankinson wrote:DIAMM is a digitization agent. They do the actual, physical work. It involves travel, real people, time, and lots and lots of money being spent on the physical process of capturing these images. It also involves hours of negotiation with hundreds of libraries. This takes time and energy. Julia estimates well over a million British pounds and a decade have been spent on creating their collection. That's a ton of money.


This is what struck me as similar. NPG also claimed they spent a million British pounds and five years (see, e.g., this, and this).

In return, they make their images available on their website FOR FREE. Anyone can register. Anyone can view the images. Anyone can study these images and use them for presentations or scholarship. You can even view them in very high quality (unlike the NPG images). There are very, very few restrictions on how you can use these images. About the only thing you must agree you will not do without permission is publish them for sale, or redistribute them outside of the DIAMM website.


First of all, I don't understand why there are "very few restrictions". You essentially cannot use the images for anything other than looking at them on their site and maybe putting them in a few slides (which you cannot distribute).

Second, this is again similar to NPG - NPG had also made the high quality images freely available (see my answer a few paragraphs below for more detail), which is how the Wikipedia contributor got them in the first place.

The "for sale" thing is a tricky situation. Libraries actually OWN these manuscripts. They may not own the intellectual rights to works contained in them, but they own the physical objects. They also make a part of their (ever-dwindling) income on negotiating with authors for rights to re-publish parts of these objects. Nobody is getting rich here. These are very small audiences and print runs.


Ownership is not copyright - and copyright is not to encouraging hoarding; copyright is to encourage creativity. Thomas Jefferson recognized the dangers of the copyright monopoly, so there is a specific purpose to granting it. This danger is not alleviated in the slightest by saying it is "ownership" and not "copyright". Also, I believe the authors have been gone for a while - not sure you can negotiate with their bones.

So, on the one hand DIAMM wants to make these images widely available, but on the other hand the libraries will not grant them access to these objects without some sort of protections in place that they can maintain publishing control over their images. DIAMM has built up a considerable amount of trust and cachet in the medieval manuscript world, and libraries are increasingly opening up their collections to digitization since DIAMM has demonstrated that they can be trusted with this type of agreement.

Also note that, according to some of these libraries, digital access is a privilege, not a right. Many of them consider that their mandate stops at the front door of their building. You can certainly consult the manuscript if you can make it there physically. So by shutting out DIAMM they are not actually removing access to the manuscript, just its digital representation.

Now we have a user that has taken it upon himself to "liberate" these works from the DIAMM site. Already this has had the effect of over 34 manuscripts (not just images, but complete volumes) having to have been pulled from the DIAMM site since DIAMM has, effectively, breached its contract with these libraries. This has also caused over 25,000 images due to be published on the DIAMM website to be delayed due to having to re-negotiate in light of this development. It is anticipated that other libraries, faced with the possibility of losing publication control will also request that their documents be withdrawn.


If I understand correctly do you mean that, because certain libraries are holding manuscripts hostage, we should do whatever they say? I'll have more to say about this at the end of my post.

So, as I see it the situation here differs from the example you posted in a couple ways:

1) The National Portrait Gallery is one organization. The libraries that DIAMM partners with are spread all over the world. There is very little possibility that these images will see the light of day again if they are withdrawn from DIAMM, since the libraries still ultimately control access to them. If they haven't already adopted a CC license, this action certainly won't encourage them to do so.

2) The net effect of this action has *already* jeopardized more works than are currently available on IMSLP from DIAMM. So while IMSLP may wish to protect the public's access to these works, already this situation has had a net negative effect in terms of public access to medieval manuscripts. (This isn't accusatory, it's a statement of fact.)


NPG would probably have said the same thing in 2009. I'll address this in more detail at the end of this post.

3) In the NPG dispute, they were offering low resolution "previews", with high resolution available for sale. For DIAMM, you do not have to pay to view high resolution images. You do not have to pay to view any images. You only have to agree that you will negotiate with the library that owns the work if you are going to be offering images of their work for sale (in a book or other publication).


This is currently the case, but unless you are telling me the Wikipedia contributor paid for each of 3,000+ images just to put them on Wikipedia (the ones on Wikipedia are high quality), I'm going to say this is a recent development. For my part, I actually don't mind DIAMM charging a reasonable amount of money for access to their collection, because I believe what's on the line is much bigger than that. See the end of my post.

4) DIAMM is operated entirely out of grant money and of digitization agreements with partner libraries. They get very little other funding for their work. (Seriously -- I've been involved in several grant applications with them). The National Portrait Gallery is backed by the UK government. It is entirely likely that libraries will refuse to work with DIAMM in the future, which will have the effect of DIAMM shutting down. This will further impact public access to these materials.

So, in short: Whether or not it's copyrighted or blah blah blah -- that's really for the lawyers to figure out. I know DIAMM would rather spend money on digitizing than legal fees. I know IMSLP doesn't really need the headache or another copyright fight. You're both ultimately working for the same goal, but under very different circumstances in terms of actual costs and restrictions for accomplishing your mission. The effects of this dispute have already had a demonstrable negative effect on online access to these works (and jeopardized many people's scholarship), and I believe it will just get worse.


Let me tell you what my biggest concerns are and maybe they will be helpful in understanding where I'm coming from.

There are two things that disturb me more than anything else in this dispute.

First, I believe we live in a democratic society. Laws are supposed to be a reflection of our collective agreement as to what constitutes acceptable interactions between people. Believe it or not, there are some laws that were not created for the benefit of lawyers. If you don't like them, if you don't think them fair, you try to change them. And if enough people agree, it will be changed. That's how a democracy works.

So, I ask you, why is DIAMM and a very small fraction of the population (or even the music community) trying to decide what is "moral"? Copyright law fundamentally affects every single person on this planet, why is a small group of people dictating what the rest of the world should accept? Why are we playing god?

IMSLP's mission is simple to the extreme: we are guardians of the musical public domain. That is all we are. I would prefer people not to think of IMSLP as a friend, but a machine. We look at the law, and if it is public domain, we defend it. The day we fail to defend the public domain is the day we've failed in our core mission. Is copyright law "just" or "moral"? I don't know. That is for the people and the legislature to decide.

Which brings me to my second point. If I remove the DIAMM items, what the hell should I tell music publishers? That IMSLP is fine protecting Oxford's 1 million pounds, but will turn a blind eye to musicians losing their jobs because of IMSLP? Or is it that music publishers are inherently evil, so their employees should be punished? Or that Oxford is inherently good, so we should do whatever they say? Or that a few manuscripts are more important than jobs?

I understand a lot of agitation in this dispute is because some manuscripts are no longer accessible. And we've been accused of not "playing ball". First, I don't understand why the real cause of this problem, the libraries who refuse to release the manuscripts, are not even in this discussion but are treated as sacred. Second, I've said this before regarding publishers and let me say it again to libraries: You cannot cling to an outdated mode of operation and still expect to stay relevant. Of course the internet will be disruptive, not just to publishers who we all love to hate, but also to libraries. The question is whether libraries decide to forceably reshape the internet to suit their historic mode of operation and try to make water flow uphill, or embrace the internet and try to work with all of it quirks and consequences.

I'll stop here. Hopefully this has provided some points for discussion. I do not have time to post much more, and above all I want to see what other people think - this is not just an echo chamber for me.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby homerdundas » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:26 pm

Quoting from AndrewHankinson:
DIAMM is a digitization agent. They do the actual, physical work.
Thank you. This dispute is the first I have heard of your project. The scans on the DIAMM website are some of the best I have ever seen. The works available are treasures indeed.
Many of them consider that their mandate stops at the front door of their building.
Surely this is the very antithesis of the role of a library. We should distribute these riches far and wide.
[The member libriaries] can maintain publishing control over their images.
I'm sorry, but these works are now in the public domain, I can't see what legal controls your member libraries could expect.
Already this has had the effect of over 34 manuscripts (not just images, but complete volumes) having to have been pulled from the DIAMM site
Perhaps the pulling libraries would like to comment on this?
DIAMM is operated entirely out of grant money and of digitization agreements with partner libraries. ... I've been involved in several grant applications with them).
Your next grant application can read something like... "The images from DIAMM are now hosted on thousands of library websites around the world, available for viewing, forever, by millions of people, with a simple click of the mouse"
Having them there is doing more harm than good, which should be the ultimate yardstick by which the defence of the public good is judged.
On the contrary, the presence of the images here is excellent for public good. I, for one, have looked at your marvellous project for the first time and your member libraries are learning quickly about publishing in the internet age.
There is very little possibility that these images will see the light of day again
On the contrary, I predict that when other curators take over responsibility for these treasures, these images will be distributed far and wide.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby AndrewHankinson » Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:35 pm

I think there is a very crucial point being missed here, so I feel I should spell it out.

I'm not talking about copyright. Like I said, I'm leaving that to the lawyers.

I can have a whole house full of public-domain works. I can be an avid collector of these works. I can even invite people in to my home to look at these works. However, they are still *my* books. If you attempt to come in to my home and do things that I do not approve of, I can kick you out. If you force your way in, I can charge you with trespassing. If you steal my books, you are a thief.You have no moral right to consulting the physical objects.

You may feel you have a moral right to the intellectual content of the works via copyright and public domain, but I have a property right to the objects. That's the way this works.

If you were to go in and transcribe the contents of these works and then post them on IMSLP, I doubt *anyone* would have a problem with that. In fact, you would probably be hailed as a hero.

What DIAMM is doing here is negotiating with the libraries for access to the physical objects, in order to make the intellectual content free. They are placing no claims to copyright on the intellectual content. The more they work with libraries, the more they can "liberate" the contents. I have personally heard concerts of music that hasn't been heard in hundreds of years from music that is available through DIAMM, with no expectations that DIAMM (or even the library!) would receive a penny in return. I have friends who make their living transcribing and performing these works. Without DIAMM, there would be no images. Period.

You are likely welcome to visit the libraries and take images of the manuscripts yourself. Then it would be up to you to negotiate with the library. DIAMM has negotiated with them, and these are the conditions that the libraries have imposed. In return, they have opened up the intellectual content of these treasures to the rest of the world. Up until now, the vast majority of DIAMM users have been satisfied with these conditions.

If IMSLP is volunteering to fight the libraries to remove these restrictions, I'm all for that. I'm sure many others would be for that as well. Nobody is arguing that this is the way it should be in an ideal world. However, I don't think IMSLP has the money, manpower or the conviction to do this. So the end result is that by sticking to an ideology and seeing it purely as a copyright issue without examining the real-world situation and seeking a practical resolution, IMSLP is actually doing more harm than good. This is not "potentially;" this is not "possibly;" this is definitely.

[Edited for clarity]
Last edited by AndrewHankinson on Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby AndrewHankinson » Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:53 pm

Forgive me, but just one more point:

Which brings me to my second point. If I remove the DIAMM items, what the hell should I tell music publishers? That IMSLP is fine protecting Oxford's 1 million pounds, but will turn a blind eye to musicians losing their jobs because of IMSLP? Or is it that music publishers are inherently evil, so their employees should be punished? Or that Oxford is inherently good, so we should do whatever they say? Or that a few manuscripts are more important than jobs?


It's wrong to think that this is "Oxford" money. This is grants. These grants have paid for employment over a decade. 1 million pounds over 15 years is not a lot of money when you consider a salary, expensive digitization equipment (have you seen the gear that DIAMM uses?) travel costs, etc. When you work out the numbers, you can see that nobody is getting rich here. It really is a labour of love.

The people who actually use DIAMMs images on a daily basis have had absolutely no problems with their terms for years now.

The problem with seeing IMSLP as a machine is that when an issue arises that requires judgement and understanding of the consequences of an action, rather than just a rote application of the "rules," there may be a tendency to cut off your nose to spite your face, so to speak.

In other words, please don't ruin this for the rest of us. It is no exaggeration to say that DIAMM has single-handedly revolutionized access to these works, and the world would be a much poorer place without them. It is universally accepted as a "force for good." Those who care most about these works have been happy with the way it's been, and (to be frank) the people who care most about these works don't need your help, however altruistic you feel you are being.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby cypressdome » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:24 pm

AndrewHankinson wrote:I can have a whole house full of public-domain works. I can be an avid collector of these works. I can even invite people in to my home to look at these works. However, they are still *my* books. If you attempt to come in to my home and do things that I do not approve of, I can kick you out. If you force your way in, I can charge you with trespassing. If you steal my books, you are a thief.You have no moral right to consulting the physical objects.

You may feel you have a moral right to the intellectual content of the works via copyright and public domain, but I have a property right to the objects. That's the way this works.


The moment the "avid collector" of these public domain works or someone acting as his proxy posted images of them on the internet they lost control of those images--the genie has been released from the bottle. IMSLP may be just the first or possibly the currently most prominent site upon which copies of the images have appeared but you need to realize that those images will began appearing elsewhere on the internet -- sites run by people who don't care about "moral rights," unenforceable user agreements, and whatever agreements DIAMM had to make with "avid collectors" in order to acquire the images. The obscurity of the subject matter and the small population of people interested in the material might make it a slow process but as long as the images are out there it will happen. Certainly, when a facsimile of the Eton Choirbook costs $425 (U.S.) there is a monetary incentive for some people to acquire and utilize those images in ways to which DIAMM and the libraries would object. I think you will find it hard to put the genie back into the bottle.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby Notenschreiber » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:01 pm

Thanks Cypressdome, that´s exactly the point which makes the whole discussion useless in some sense. (I had the same idea the with "genie released from the bottle"). It´s really naive to think, that something in the internet, which has been accessible for everybody can be controlled or withdrawn.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby Melodia » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:49 pm

Andrew, others have touched on it, but you seem to be missing the difference between the physical item and its contents. OBVIOUSLY the physical texts stored at those libraries are owned by them. Anyone trying to make off with them would be a thief, no question about it.

But the CONTENTS of what's in them are still in the public domain, just the same as the cheap Dover editions sitting on my shelf. It doesn't really matter what sort of work or money went into digitizing them, as long as there's no originality to them (and no matter how high quality, an online image has none), then they are legally free for the taking.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby Carolus » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:35 am

Cypressdome, Notenscreiber and Melodia have all hit upon what I expect is the crucial point here - one that is actually addressed in nearly every copyright statute I've been able to read - the distinction between ownership of an object and ownership of any intellectual property contained therein. While I don't think that $425.00 for a full-color facsimile is totally out-of-line given the considerable color-conversion work, low print-run and other associated costs (there are far worse examples, after all), the ones who are behaving in a manner which serves only to choke off everyone's access to these treasures are in fact the library bureaucrats who seem to believe they own a perpetual copyright over the content of the items in their custody due to a failure to comprehend the difference between ownership of an object and of the IP content (if any) it contains.

To give an example, if I went onto DIAMM's site, paid my 425.00 or whatever for their high-quality facsimile of the Eton Choirbook, then sent this copy over to archive.org for scanning (making sure that no annotations, commentary and the like were scanned), how would I be violating any copyright? All of the authors of the works contained in this choirbook have been dead for a very long time - far beyond even the utterly absurd 100 years post-mortem of Mexico's law. Any scans made by archive.org would themselves be scans of images taken (or approved) by the holding library, who appears to be claiming a copyright on all scans of a public domain original - access to which they completely control.

This amounts to a de-facto perpetual copyright claim on the content itself. After all, it's not as if I can hop a plane and walk into the library with my own digital camera and take pictures of the manuscript (or even a portion thereof). This is essentially a back-door method to exercise a perpetual copyright claim which functions very much in the same way that Germany's old law which forbade reprints of anything unless it was out of print for 50 years served as a back-door way for publishers exercise a perpetual copyright monopoly - which is why it ended up being struck down altogether by the German high court.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby AndrewHankinson » Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:49 am

Honestly, and personally, I don't really disagree with you on any of your points. I think I've stated that before, and if it wasn't clear, I'll state it again. What we have now is far from the ideal.

However, I think there needs to be some element of responsibility taken into account here. If IMSLP wants to house the images and the contents, fine. That's great. I'm sure a lot of people would appreciate greater access. But you can't have it both ways. If posting a few of these images online causes a greater number of images to be taken offline, who has the responsibility to negotiate with the libraries to get them back? Is IMSLP going to shoulder this responsibility? Or are the people who depend on DIAMM going to be left out in the cold while somehow, magically, these images appear online again (but taken with a small consumer camera in bad lighting conditions).

If IMSLP wants to bear the responsibility of negotiating these access rights with the libraries, that's great. I'm sure DIAMM would love to have them on board. However, I don't think that's IMSLPs mandate, and for the relatively small number of items (when compared to the rest of IMSLPs collection) it just doesn't make sense for them to do so. So while you may be making a point on principle for a couple of items, you're putting a much larger system of imperfect, but workable solutions at risk.

So there are two options:

1) An effort on the part of IMSLP that makes a token ideological point but actually has a net negative effect on public access to these materials in the short to mid-term range, or
2) A recognition that things aren't ideal, but the system that is in place now promotes access in an manner that has, to date, been unprecedented and has actually opened up more records to the public.

I would choose #2, and I would hope that those who actually value public access to these materials would as well.
Last edited by AndrewHankinson on Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby AndrewHankinson » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:36 am

If you'll permit me another post, I would like to address some further points raised by other posters.

Melodia says:

Andrew, others have touched on it, but you seem to be missing the difference between the physical item and its contents. OBVIOUSLY the physical texts stored at those libraries are owned by them. Anyone trying to make off with them would be a thief, no question about it.


I actually think I grasp the point quite well. I'm not talking about copyright of the contents. Nobody is claiming copyright of the contents. Nobody (in this discussion) is even claiming copyright of the images. I don't care about copyright. I've said it before -- that's a question for the lawyers.

What I *do* care about is access to the physical items. DIAMM *needs* access to the physical items. They are not a person with a cheap camera and a day pass to the library. You should see the kit they travel with (This video is great, BTW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBUKT_x0rDM) Without negotiating with libraries, they don't get access to the physical objects. Without signing contracts with libraries, they don't have permission to make these objects public. If this contract gets breached, the libraries (despite various claims about copyright law) can demand that they remove these manuscripts from online access, and DIAMM must comply or be found in breach of contract. Furthermore, they will likely never be able to work with that library again, or even other libraries.

So while you might be right about copyright, there are other considerations to take into account.

Cypressdome says:

The moment the "avid collector" of these public domain works or someone acting as his proxy posted images of them on the internet they lost control of those images---the genie has been released from the bottle.


This speaks to my point, so I'm glad you brought it up. Let's pretend again that I'm an avid collector and, out of my interest in the public good I've made arrangements for a third-party -- let's call them MIADD -- to come in and digitize my works. The only stipulation is that if someone wants to make a profit off of these works (not the content, mind you, but selling an image of the physical object) they must first notify me, and I will ask them to pay a small fee, or I'll just tell them to forget the fee if they're small enough. So I place these images up on the internet, and an organization -- let's call them SMILP -- says that they will take these images and because of their interpretation of copyright law, will make them available outside of the MIADD site, with no conditions.

So SMILP gets 10 books, and makes them public. That genie is, as they say, "out of the bottle." Meanwhile, MIADD is preparing 60 more works to post online, but it's come back to me that MIADD has 'lost control' of these works and that the one condition that I asked them to keep has been broken. So when MIADD approaches me to sign off on their project, I say "thanks but no thanks" and close off digital access to my collection, giving the MIADD digitization program the boot. SMILP gets to make a point about copyright, but in the meantime all the works that are not available on SMILP are outside of public access.

Now lets pretend that these are all unique manuscripts, unlike any others in the world. These aren't prints. There are no other libraries you can walk into to see them. And because I'm a busy man, my library is only open from 3-4pm every second Sunday, except it's not open at all during Lent or Advent. And you must show up with a letter of introduction from a well-known scholar, and a bottle of rum for the monk behind the desk.

You think I'm joking, but I'm not. These are not far off from the real conditions that some of these libraries impose on access. *This* is why DIAMM is so important. Before DIAMM, this is what you had to do, to a greater or lesser extent. After DIAMM, anyone could access these images, at any time, anywhere in the world. Because DIAMM played the library's "game" with regards to reproduction rights, they gained physical access to these works. The physical access, and the digital images that come from physical access, allow anyone in the world to access the intellectual content, with no expectation of compensation or reward. Concerts have been played, musicians have been exploring new works, new scholarship has opened up insights into early music that older scholars could not have dreamed of.

And it all stems from physical access, and the cachet that DIAMM has with these libraries.

As I said in a previous post, if IMSLP wants to take over the negotiations with the libraries to do this, I'm sure DIAMM would be on board (I can't speak for them, of course, but I know how much DIAMM values public access to these materials as well). I don't imagine that DIAMM sees rights negotiations as a productive use of time (they would rather be digitizing!) As it is now, however, there is a very real danger that DIAMM will be left holding the bag when libraries revoke their agreement, while ISMLP lets the ball drop and access to most of the materials (and any future materials) goes back to the pre-Internet days. (You laugh, but many of them don't have open stacks, a concept that was pioneered in the late 19th C. If it's been over 150 years and they haven't caught on to that trend, what makes you think they'll care at all about a bunch of digital images? Some have been around since before Columbus sailed!)

So yeah, while these works MAY, EVENTUALLY, make it out on IMSLP by other means, what should the rest of us do in the meantime? Spend the $800 travel grant I scraped together to go and visit one library in the mountains of Switzerland in the hopes that the catalogue that they published in 1961 was accurate and that the manuscript they mention is still on the shelves there? And those works that do make it onto IMSLP, are they shot with colour-corrected lenses and light cards to ensure that I can tell that the smudge of ink on the second staff is a dot, and not a squished insect?

If it were you, wouldn't you rather sit at home and visit 10 libraries in the space of an evening, viewing high-quality images over your internet connection, with time left over to discover a new musical work that nobody's seen or studied before?

DIAMM is over 15 years old. The "genie" has been kept in the bottle for well over a decade since those who really care about these works understand that without DIAMM, there is no access, and the conditions they agree to when signing up are small change when compared to the actual results that they get from access to these works.

[Edited for grammar, clarity, removing hyperbole.]

Olivier
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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby Olivier » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:34 am

After discussing a lot in one of these places you might not have access ;-) I've learned something very specific to the english copyright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_ ... ed_Kingdom

Which means all manuscripts owned by the old british universities are still under copyright until the end of 2039... this is thus the case for the Eton Choirbook and the Chansonnier, GB-Cmc MS 1760 for instance.

[edit] This is incorrect. See below
Last edited by Olivier on Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kosboot
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Re: DIAMM and IMSLP

Postby kosboot » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:16 pm

Perpetual copyright is a UK law. The idea of perpetual copyright is literally against the Constitution of the United States which guarantees a public domain (when that public domain occurs is determined by the US Congress). So it's the same situation as with Peter Pan - it's under copyright in the UK but public domain in the United States.

I can't find the Wikipedia article but I believe in Europe it is possible to have a copyright for intangible ideas--perhaps this is a basis upon which DIAMM is arguing, like "ownership." This idea is totally against the Constitution of the US, which declared that to be copyrightable, the idea must be in a fixed form. (I don't know Canadian law but I have a feeling that in this regard it is closer to US law than UK law.) Because of that, I can't find a single element in Andrew's arguments that is supportable.


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