Greetings to Feldmahler and all other readers,
I am another in the lengthy list of folks who have joined the forums since the IMSLP closure. I stumbled across IMSLP in the early days when it had about 500 scores uploaded. I almost signed up at that time to help, but decided I didn't have the time to contribute to such a worthy effort in a meaningful way. However, as an avocational musician who posts MP3s of digital realizations of music on the Internet, I have used IMSLP continuously since then, and have used several scores to create realizations of works on my web site. Not surprisingly, I have also become quite interested in copyright law, and I thought I would offer a few thoughts on this whole affair.
1. Public domain music is a gift of the finest aspirations of humanity to the world. It must continue to remain broadly accessible. The Internet is a perfect medium for this, and IMSLP was/is the premier site for promoting this. I sincerely hope IMSLP resurfaces in some form. If it does, I will sign up to help. Even if I have time to review the copyright status of only a single score per week, that will be better than sitting on the sidelines while a superb resource gets crushed.
2. All the intemperate posts on these boards about the "criminals" at UE, and the rants and raves about boycotts, should also cease and desist. It appears to me that in a few cases UE may have a point; but even if I am wrong about this, there is never an upside to vilifying your antagonists. You don't have to look hard to find blatant copyright violations on the Internet, and IMSLP will do best at this point to assume that the intentions of the folks at UE are honorable. Beyond the "baseline" regulations of life+70, or pre-1923 in the USA, and so on, there appear to be numerous variations by composer and even by individual work. Taking a deep breath, understanding precisely what has UE up in arms, addressing it precisely, and complying with the law down to its last minutiae will allow IMSLP to forge ahead in as nearly complete fashion as possible.
3. Some posts indicate that the UE demand is absurd. I have my opinion, but not really the knowledge to absolutely confirm or refute those posts. But I will say: this is not a setback for IMSLP, but an opportunity. I have admired the singular effort of this site to clearly explain the copyright status of the posted scores, and on the remote chance you haven't noticed, this is creating quite the storm in the blogosphere, and lots of folks are watching. It's irrelevant if you think the original IMSLP was in the wrong or not, and more importantly, it's irrelevant if you think the law as written on the books is sensible or stupid. The great historian Will Durant reminded us that cultural treasures are irrelevant in a lawless society, and a resource as prominent as IMSLP needs to set the standard that puts the pirate sites to shame, perhaps helping the security of other excellent sources like WIMA, Choral Wiki, and so forth.
4. My greatest admiration goes out to the founder of this site. It's a brave new world when a college student can lead an effort that burgeons to 15000 scores, many from composers that I, with a lifelong love of music, have never heard of. I also suspect that IMSLP has just about spiraled out of the control of a college student and a shoestring volunteer staff. Taking the site down and thinking thoroughly about the options is probably a very good thing, and the scores will wait for us. In a paradoxical way, perhaps this whole business is just the tonic this site needed to sort out its growing pains.
Thanks for your forbearance with this excessively long post.
Last edited by Jeff_FLG
on Mon Oct 22, 2007 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.