I've already been taking a lot of flak from Peter and Leonard
about this a few minutes after I uploaded the "feature", but I'll explain it in more detail here to everyone.
I used to hate ads with a passion, and it is no mistake or coincidence that the old IMSLP site was completely ad-free. Unfortunately, I now have something that I hate even more than ads: lawyers' bills. As much as I like to wish I will never see one in my life, I already have.
If I have learned one thing in the 9 months IMSLP was offline, it is that there are still many things in this world that do not like to be free, and one of them is a lawyer's time. This is not a criticism of all lawyers or even lawyers in general; they obviously need food and shelter like the rest of us, and I'm very grateful for the support I got pro bono
. Rather, it is more a statement of fact, that even the fight for freedom is not free.
Before someone accuses me of trying to make money from the wonderful work of IMSLP contributors, permit me to explain. I have spent nearly $2,000 so far on IMSLP-related expenses (mostly server bills), and I have not seen a single penny in return. But that's not what I care about. That's not what drives me to sit in this chair and program for hours and hours on end. That's not what drives me to face the legal threats from century-old corporations instead of running. What drives me is the same as what drives all IMSLP contributors: the love of music, and the belief that music makes the world a better place.
Indeed, two other IMSLP contributors have contributed a total of $6,000 towards the legal costs associated with the reopening of IMSLP, without which IMSLP would certainly not be here now. But unfortunately none of us are millionares; as much as we would like to, we are unable to continuously support IMSLP with the amount needed. So we were confronted with what was essentially two choices: 1) to have IMSLP ad-free and also inaccessible to the rest of the world, and 2) to have IMSLP ad-supported but accessible to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the donations are not enough at this point to cover all the costs, or I would not be writing this post.
Such are the reasons why I begrudgingly turned to advertising. But I'm not going to tell people to buy more CDs... being a salesman never suited me, nor do I want it to. Instead, as with everything else, use your own judgment in any purchase you make; after all, it is your money. The advertising on IMSLP is designed to be a "feature" that may be of use from time to time, and not a way to coerce people into spending more money.
* * *
In exchange, I will promise two things.
First, I will work more on the backup system, so that IMSLP contributors have more control of their own work. I will also pursue mirroring/backup arrangements with other institutions more aggressively, so that there is an alternative if something should happen to IMSLP, or if people do not believe me an adequate leader.
Second, we are already in the preliminary stages of exploring the incorporation of a full-fledged non-profit organization. I hope all doubts will be put to rest when IMSLP is turned over to the non-profit organization.
* * *
I will also make the following offer:
If any person or organization is willing to indemnify IMSLP against all copyright-related legal costs as long as IMSLP follows a specific set of rules (i.e. what IMSLP follows right now), I will remove all advertising from the site.
* * *
I understand that trust is not built in a day, and I do not ask that you trust us a few hours after we have put up advertising that has understandably made some people uncomfortable. Instead, we will let our future actions speak for themselves: we are confident, because the only motive that propels us in the administration of IMSLP is our love of music.
And I want to thank again all the IMSLP contributors who have dedicated their time, and shown themselves to be among some of the most dedicated music lovers in this world. I trust that the current incident is a misunderstanding that will resolve with time, because regardless of everything, our goals are the same.
Edit: Removed a sentence as per contract with Amazon.