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Provider of Free Public Domain Music Shuts Down

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the why-do-people-hate-the-word-free-so-much dept.

The Courts 242

Mark Rogers writes "The International Music Score Library Project has provided access to copies of many musical scores that are in the public domain. It has just been shut down due to a cease-and-desist letter sent to the site operator by a European Union music publisher (Universal Edition). A majority of the scores recently available at IMSLP were in the public domain worldwide. Other scores were not in the public domain in the United States or the EU (where copyright extends for 70 years after the composer's death), but were legal in Canada (where the site is hosted) and many other countries. The site's maintainers clearly labeled the copyright status of such scores and warned users to follow their respective country's copyright law. Apparently this wasn't enough for Universal Edition, who found it necessary to protect the interests of their (long-dead) composers and shut down a site that has proved useful to many students, professors, and other musicians worldwide."

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I feel better about this decision... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060775)

Once I'm dead.

Re:I feel better about this decision... (1)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#21060833)

Once I'm dead.

The day the music died is many. Some die sooner, some die later. Any day the music dies is a sad day.

Re:I feel better about this decision... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060889)

At least when I die, my producers can still profit from my music. Isn't that why I create it in the first place?

Not again.... (3, Insightful)

Adradis (1160201) | about 7 years ago | (#21060777)

Once again, the music industry hammers down people, even when they have no legal standing in the country. Pretty pathetic.

Re:Not again.... (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | about 7 years ago | (#21060807)

even when they have no legal standing in the country

I never went to the site but depending on how it worked, the labels could have had a strong argument to take the owner to court in the U.S. They'd probably use the importing the works into the U.S., "targeting" consumers that in the U.S., etc. I'm sure Canada and the U.S. have agreements to enforce judgments over the borders.

Re:Not again.... (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#21061111)

even when they have no legal standing in the country

I never went to the site but depending on how it worked, the labels could have had a strong argument to take the owner to court in the U.S. They'd probably use the importing the works into the U.S., "targeting" consumers that in the U.S., etc. I'm sure Canada and the U.S. have agreements to enforce judgments over the borders.
I'm not really sure how you think that would work. If you allowed that, you'd open the door to any country enforcing its copyright laws on every other country, simply because the content was potentially accessible to someone in their nation. That's a hell of a can of worms to open, because copyright laws vary wildly between countries -- in the E.U., for instance, you can copyright databases in ways that are not deemed valid in the U.S.

You might be able to find a lower court judge stupid enough to rule that was initially (there are a lot of judges, and by definition, that means there are at least some really bad ones), but I can't imagine that it wouldn't be overturned on appeal.

I think the really sad thing here is that the operators of the site don't have either the will or the resources to fight this to its conclusion. So therefore, as usual, the case is not being decided on anything approaching the merits, but simply by the might of deep pockets.

Re:Not again.... (1, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 years ago | (#21061963)

So therefore, as usual, the case is not being decided on anything approaching the merits, but simply by the might of deep pockets.
I'm afraid this is now the way of the world when corporations are more powerful than governments, and educated people see "The Free Market" as omnipotent.

Re:Not again.... (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | about 7 years ago | (#21061175)

I never went to the site but depending on how it worked, the labels could have had a strong argument to take the owner to court in the U.S. They'd probably use the importing the works into the U.S., "targeting" consumers that in the U.S., etc. I'm sure Canada and the U.S. have agreements to enforce judgments over the borders.
With that argument, the DEA should routinely raid the Coffee Shops in Amsterdam because, you know, some US tourists actually go there.

Re:Not again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061635)

Careful what you ask for...

Re:Not again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061681)

With that argument, the DEA should routinely raid the Coffee Shops in Amsterdam because, you know, some US tourists actually go there.

People are routinely extradited to the US to stand trial (actually, plea bargain, since trial is unwinnable) based on the allegations made by secret operatives. The most worrying cases are where people where involved in the production of, say, XTC pills that were smuggled to the US, but they themselves neither organised, nor took part in the smuggling. In other words, they were on Dutch soil the entire time, a small cog in the machine. The legal theory is that producing and exporting XTC is illegal in both countries, which satisfies extradition treaties, even though there is clearly a lack of jurisdiction or territoriality.
The best part is where extradition is approved on the proviso that the US DA promises not to seek the death penalty, but enforcing that promise is kinda hard when the prisoner is turned over and on US soil!

In short, yes, DEA operatives DO raid Dutch places of naughtiness (albeit the ones that are illegal in The Netherlands too) and get people who have broken NO US LAW (by virtue of never having been under the jurisdiction of the US) to take plea bargains so they can rot in a US jail for a few years before they get sent back to The Netherlands.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about the US.

That, and the The Hague Invasion Act.

And Gitmo.

Etc.

Re:Not again.... (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 7 years ago | (#21062071)

The best part is where extradition is approved on the proviso that the US DA promises not to seek the death penalty, but enforcing that promise is kinda hard when the prisoner is turned over and on US soil!

Nice troll, there. On what cases would you base that paranoia?

Re:Not again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061867)

And the Delaware state troopers should head out to Texas to enforce their 65 MPH speed limits ... I'm sure they can meet quota a lot easier there (having the signs posted at 80 will help a lot).

Re:Not again.... (3, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 years ago | (#21061981)

With that argument, the DEA should routinely raid the Coffee Shops in Amsterdam because, you know, some US tourists actually go there.
Internet's a little fuzzy on those kinds of issues. It also be equated with the DEA routinely raiding Coffee Shops in Amsterdam because they export drugs to the US.

Re:Not again.... (1)

adatepej (1154117) | about 7 years ago | (#21061245)

What I don't understand is why the people let there site go if the legality is so clear?

In whose name? (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | about 7 years ago | (#21060785)

In whose name is Universal Edition stirring up this sh*t? In the name of composers that definitely would HAVE deservED the recognition while they were alive? Now that they are dead, if you believe in afterlife, what are the odds that they want their work to fatten a fat-cat? Wouldn't they rather want for their work to be as widespread as possible, that many people would enjoy their music?

I guess dead people don't put all that much emphasis on money loss due to copyright violation.

In whose country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060821)

The more important question is: does Canada have ceast and desist letters like in the US?

Re:In whose country? (0)

Simon80 (874052) | about 7 years ago | (#21060977)

(Score:-1, Stupid)

Re:In whose name? (1)

unfunk (804468) | about 7 years ago | (#21061087)

actually, the income from this sort of music usually goes to the composer's estate. We're talking about Composers here, not "artists" that have producers and songwriters.

Re:In whose name? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 7 years ago | (#21061437)

I can only reply with what I already said: dead composers probably don't give a duck about that.

I'm a bit fuzzy about the difference you're trying to make between composers and artists. For me a composer is a bona fide artist. Must be a weakness in my English language skills.

Re:In whose name? (5, Insightful)

unfunk (804468) | about 7 years ago | (#21061573)

I can only reply with what I already said: dead composers probably don't give a duck about that.

I'm a bit fuzzy about the difference you're trying to make between composers and artists. For me a composer is a bona fide artist. Must be a weakness in my English language skills.
Well, I'm a composer, and I recognise that I probably won't be making much money off my music during my lifetime. My kids though, may well have the distinction of saying "yeah, that unfunk fellow was my dad" and thus, I'm all for them getting money from my work.

As to the distinction I'm trying to make, well, it's pretty simple.
I write music. A String Quartet or an Orchestra will (hopefully) perform it. It may even get recorded. When it's released, it will be titled something along the lines of "unfunk's second symphony. Performed by the Suchandsuch Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Whatshisname"
Britney Spears, on the other hand, performs music (and I use the term loosely) written by somebody else. It's always Britney's song though, and not the-person-who-wrote-it's. That person got paid their songwriting fee, and that's that (I think).
The point I'm trying to make is that the Classical Music world is like the reverse of the pop music world, and that Pop Artists aren't really 'artists'...

Having said all that though, I'd be pretty pissed off with a corporation making decisions on my dead behalf.. especially as I've been giving my scores away to anybody that will play them for as long as I've been writing music.

Re: Composers get their share (4, Informative)

Telephone Sanitizer (989116) | about 7 years ago | (#21061645)

> That person got paid their songwriting fee, and that's that (I think).

No, that person gets paid quite a bit for performance rights and music-publishing.

'Probably much more per track than Ms. Spears gets for doing the vocals since in addition to royalties on the album and online music sales the composer also gets paid for radio-play where Ms. Spears does not.

What makes Ms. Spears' arrangement more advantageous than the composers' are the payments from other sources such as advances against sales, concerts, merchandise, appearances and publicity, commercial advertisements -- and of course the free stuff that she gets just for showing up at awards ceremonies, bars and parties.

Re:In whose name? (3, Insightful)

the_arrow (171557) | about 7 years ago | (#21061877)

Well, I'm a composer, and I recognise that I probably won't be making much money off my music during my lifetime. My kids though, may well have the distinction of saying "yeah, that unfunk fellow was my dad" and thus, I'm all for them getting money from my work.

Well, your kids (and grandkids) are lucky bastards, because I know of no other line of work where your kids are getting paid for something you did when you were alive, while the kids are doing nothing themselves to earn it (besides being your kids).

Re:In whose name? (1)

sixintl (956172) | about 7 years ago | (#21061993)

No other line of work? I think all of the rich kids out there with trust funds and stock investments put away long before they were born think that's a pretty naive thing to say. You don't have to look farther than the President to see a shining example of a life of success provided for by someone's decisions back a century ago.

Re:In whose name? (4, Insightful)

bstone (145356) | about 7 years ago | (#21061927)

Well, I'm a composer, and I recognise that I probably won't be making much money off my music during my lifetime. My kids though, may well have the distinction of saying "yeah, that unfunk fellow was my dad" and thus, I'm all for them getting money from my work.

Too bad that, unless you're in the top .1% of composers, your work will all be lost by then. If it doesn't make money now, nobody is going to publish it commercially and since copyright laws prohibit others from attempting to preserve it, it's gone. Rather than living off the wealth of your creativity, your grandchildren won't even know about anything you wrote.

Which has been dead longer? (3, Insightful)

darkhitman (939662) | about 7 years ago | (#21060789)

The composers whose music was listed here, or the Universal Edition's business model?

Re:Which has been dead longer? (1)

Plutonite (999141) | about 7 years ago | (#21060967)

Common sense has been dead much, much longer.

Re:Which has been dead longer? (1)

jmv (93421) | about 7 years ago | (#21061027)

Probably the composers. After all, the business model has "only" been dead for about 10-15 years.

Re:Which has been dead longer? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 7 years ago | (#21061065)

It might not be about the money so much as the control.
Control is controlled by the need to control.

A few duties. (-1, Offtopic)

Ninjaesque One (902204) | about 7 years ago | (#21060799)

Since the poster is so handily throwing around opinionated statements, I thought I would serve one up, steaming. Has anyone heard of a relative semblance of neutrality here? Sure, you can be famous for hating Microsoft with all your might, but that's the shtick; if we just throw away neutrality, then we're now idiots. . . without a shtick. There has to be a normality elsewhere so that the abnormality surfaces.

Re:A few duties. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060875)

Has anyone heard of a relative semblance of neutrality here?

I see what you're saying, but then again why shoud that be expected of a Slashdot submission? This isn't the New York Times (or even a news outlet, really it's just a collection of links and a forum) and a submitter isn't a journalist. As long as the information is accurate I don't see why an article's summary needs to be free from commentary or bias.

Re:A few duties. (0, Flamebait)

cliffski (65094) | about 7 years ago | (#21061361)

well said. so this website had 'mostly' copyright-free material, and it got shut down. Talk about major spin. how about this as a title:

"Site that infringed copyright gets prosecuted for infringing copyright"

not so scandalous now is it? If the website was really keen to provide copyright-free music, why didn't they just stick to doing that. They could always have set up a second site for music that was still copyrighted in some territories.

Re:A few duties. (3, Insightful)

Pete (2228) | about 7 years ago | (#21062237)

[...] Talk about major spin. how about this as a title: "Site that infringed copyright gets prosecuted for infringing copyright" [...] If the website was really keen to provide copyright-free music, why didn't they just stick to doing that.

You didn't RTFA, did you? They (or rather, he, as it was only one person (a student), running a non-commercial site out of his own pocket) were only providing music that was out of copyright... in Canada.

The problem here, and the thing that makes it outrageous, is that publisher (Universal Edition) threatened to obtain a "judgement" against the guy in Europe - which then (according to UE's version of Canadian law, which may or may not be entirely accurate) would be enforceable against the guy in Canada. I don't know about you, but I find that kinda fucked up.

The other part, however, is more simple (and more familiar) - a large organisation with effectively infinite resources launches a "legal" assault on a single person with none. The guy had absolutely no time, funds, or any other resources to fight this. The publisher could probably have threatened to sue him in Canada, where they'd (presumably) have absolutely no case at all, and he'd still pretty much have to give up.

So well done, Universal Edition - you fucknuts. Why don't you go find a few newborn puppies you can kick, if you really want to feel like big tough men.

It can go both ways (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060825)

Sooner or later someone will match portions of copyrighted scores to older public domain scores and void their copyright status.

Re:It can go both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21062187)

Sooner or later someone will match portions of copyrighted scores to older public domain scores and void their copyright status.

OK, I'll give you a starter for ten - the opening of the main theme of the Berg Violin Concerto is the 1st line of the Chorale 'Es ist genug'.

Doing it wrong (3, Insightful)

quokkapox (847798) | about 7 years ago | (#21060843)

Modern global society is doing it wrong. The current regime of patents and copyrights is completely outdated and old-fashioned. Global digital communication has made copyright irrelevant, and it's absurd to think you can patent an idea.

I can only hope we'll look back on these early decades of the 21th century and laugh at how silly our laws were.

I'm going outside now to watch the Orionids. Good thing you can't copyright an experience.

Re:Doing it wrong (3, Funny)

Cecil (37810) | about 7 years ago | (#21060855)

I'm going outside now to watch the Orionids. Good thing you can't copyright an experience.
... Yet.

One Argument for Patents (2, Insightful)

BlackGriffen (521856) | about 7 years ago | (#21060913)

Before there were patents there were guilds and these guilds have trade secrets that they jealously guarded out of fear of losing their exclusive meal ticket. Patents, because the schematics are public records, discourage this behavior. This is a good thing because it means that the knowledge is less likely to be lost and will enter the public domain "soon." At least, that's the ideal.

Now, is the patent system as presently constituted anywhere close to an ideal solution to this problem? Not on your life. The obviousness threshold for granting patents needs to be raised significantly and there are lots of things being patented that shouldn't be (eg genes).

Fixing those things, though, could we make it even better? That's the million dollar question.

Re:One Argument for Patents (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#21060959)

and also they need to raise the requirement for disclosure in patents. it is completely impossible to replicate the item in question from a lot of modern patents because they lack a lot of the information that ought to be required.

Re:One Argument for Patents (4, Insightful)

BillyBlaze (746775) | about 7 years ago | (#21061389)

I'd add software to the list of things that shouldn't be patented. Even if we fix the obviousness problem, the patents still wouldn't be achieving their goal. The language of patents is purposefully made even more inscrutable than machine code, so as to be as general as possible while divulging as little as possible. The result is that software patents don't contain the equivalent of "schematics" for physical processes or designs. It's far easier to guess or infer the block diagrams than to coax them from the language of the patent, so never actually look to patents to implement anything.

Clearly the real "schematics" of software are source code. If English could capture software's function as well, we'd all be out of a job. So to adequately do their job, software patents would need to include full source code and accompanying documentation. But since source code is indisputably covered under copyright law, the patent system would thus become more of a source code escrow system, mandatory for copyright protection. The real question is whether the trade secret nature of proprietary source code is a big enough problem to warrant the incredible added overhead of such a system. I don't think it is.

In short, copyright serves the industry well enough, with minimal overhead. Patents cause more problems than they fix, and their overhead excludes basement coders, the modern equivalent of garage inventors. The best way to fix the patent system is to push it back into physical realms where it can do some good. The tech industry can do just fine without them, thanks.

Doing it wrong-patenting pandering to the audience (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060925)

"Modern global society is doing it wrong. The current regime of patents and copyrights is completely outdated and old-fashioned. Global digital communication has made copyright irrelevant, and it's absurd to think you can patent an idea."

Since that's not what patenting or copyright is. The rest of your sentence is useless. The basic ideas of copyright, patents, and trademark are even more relevant than in the past. The abuse on both sides is the problem. Not the ideas themselves.

Re:Doing it wrong (3, Funny)

jd (1658) | about 7 years ago | (#21061299)

I'm going outside now to watch the Orionids. Good thing you can't copyright an experience.

Dear Quokkapox,

Your experience of the Orionids is clearly derived in part from one of the movies either produced, being produced, or considered for being produced in light of this experience, and is thus infringing on our copyrights somehow. We insist that you cease and desist in your observations immediately and buy a stackload of crappy and expensive movies instead.

Yours insincerely,

The MPAA Division of Inquisitors, a CIA Interrogator Production

Re:Doing it wrong (0, Troll)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21061581)

If you take away all copyright then [url=http://www.reallifecomics.com/]these[/url] [url=http://www.penny-arcade.com/]people[/url] might stop producing work. Is this what you truly want? A society where all writers must take another job with NO possibility of making money?

Re:Doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21062101)

I've been using (Open)SuSE instead of Windows since 17 December 2004, and you're an idiot.

Why take the site down? (5, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | about 7 years ago | (#21060847)

I don't understand why the site is being taken down. The publisher's demands would be satisfied by removing the scores still under copyright in the EU. As I understand it, the copyright status of these scores is noted, so presumably it wouldn't be a difficult job to identify and remove those just those scores. And since, according to the article, most of the scores on the site are out of copyright everywhere, removing those still under copyright in the EU, while regrettable, would not destroy the utility of the site. The cease-and-desist letter is annoying, but I don't see that it should require taking down the site.

Re:Why take the site down? (2, Insightful)

Korveck (1145695) | about 7 years ago | (#21060891)

I agree. I think the owner just took the easy way out instead of spending the time and efforts to satisfy the terms.

Re:Why take the site down? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061025)

Hi! I am the spokesperson for the IMSLP owner, and I would like to direct your attention to the following post made, for a (rather) complete list of reasons why IMSLP is down:

http://imslpforums.org/viewtopic.php?p=3082#3082 [imslpforums.org]

Re:Why take the site down? Model wrong for size. (2, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | about 7 years ago | (#21061643)

It seems pretty clear that the model the site was under was not what it should be to carry such responsibility.

As has been noted, maintenance of the site became overwhelming and the second C&D was only the straw that broke an already overloaded camel back.

I see no reason for the site to not come back, but under a different maintenance model along with user agreements/registrations to access
works not worldwide public domain, effectively making reasonable effort to provide restrictions where needed.

Public domain is public domain..... there are no laws to circumvent this, only the exposure of wrong doings by those who oppose it.

Even if the person who created the site does not want to bring it back, he should be willing to transfer the resources to another willing to do so.
Unless of course he has intent on publishing for sale, such a collection.

It wouldn't be the first time someone took what was open and closed it up for a personal profit.

Re:Why take the site down? (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | about 7 years ago | (#21062097)

Maybe you can implement IP->Geo, generate some secure tokens for access to downloads, and issue tokens based on copyright by geo. I don't know if you're using a CDN or serving the files yourself, but most CDNs have token solutions you can leverage, and if you're hosting yourself it's probably not too hard to build, even if it takes a few days.

Hope you find a way.

Re:Why take the site down? (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#21061029)

I don't understand why the site is being taken down. The publisher's demands would be satisfied by removing the scores still under copyright in the EU. As I understand it, the copyright status of these scores is noted, so presumably it wouldn't be a difficult job to identify and remove those just those scores.

Reasons:

1. If they don't act immediately, it could be argued later in court they acted in bad faith delaying taking down the offending materials. The site will be off temporarily until all offending material is removed, and then put back up.

2. The site owner(s) is/are understandably pissed off, and taking the entire site off allows them for better publicity and press coverage. It's a statement of a sort.

Re:Why take the site down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061149)

2. The site owner(s) is/are understandably pissed off, and taking the entire site off allows them for better publicity and press coverage. It's a statement of a sort.

In the last sentence, I'd change the word "statement" to "free ad" and then we might be closer to the truth.

Re:Why take the site down? (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#21061713)

In the last sentence, I'd change the word "statement" to "free ad" and then we might be closer to the truth.

You think? Hmm, what would be the point... "Come to our site. It's down". "Now you know about our site... which you can't visit".

Dunno.

Re:Why take the site down? (5, Informative)

maiki (857449) | about 7 years ago | (#21061055)

If you take a gander at the IMSLP website, the former project leader listed a couple reasons why (well, kind of the same reason, reiterated several times):

I became painfully aware of the fact that I, a normal college student, has[sic] neither the energy nor the money necessary to deal with this issue in any other way than to agree with the cease and desist, and take down the entire site.

I also understand very well that the cease and desist letter does not call for a take down of the entire site, but, as I said above, I very unfortunately simply do not have the energy or money necessary to implement the terms in the cease and desist in any other way. Prior to this cease and desist I was already overloaded with server maintenance and the implementation of new features

Another major reason behind me taking the server down is the fact...that I can no longer support IMSLP adequately
so basically, he doesn't have energy or money to either change what was demanded of him, or to otherwise maintain the site anymore. However, he did preface his entire spiel with this, in big bold letters:

UPDATE: Due to demand, I strongly encourage any organization willing to support a continuation of IMSLP to contact me at imslp@imslp.org

Re:Why take the site down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061125)

If the site operator just took off the songs, it wouldn't have shown up on Slashdot.

Just saying...

Re:Why take the site down? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21061631)

They don't care about the law, they only care about getting their pound of flesh.

Seems like he caved to an empty threat (4, Informative)

etymxris (121288) | about 7 years ago | (#21060849)

Based on the summary, I thought his ISP had shut him down. Rather, it seems he just caved. Since Canada is not part of the EU, what weight could such a C&D have?

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 7 years ago | (#21060859)

The letter is from the publisher's Canadian representative and objects to the distribution of scores that are still under copyright in Canada. Furthermore, insofar as the site is available to people in the EU, the publisher can claim that it is engaged in copyright violation in the EU and take legal action in the EU resulting in a judgment that would be enforceable in Canada.

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 7 years ago | (#21061431)

And as a member under my household, the copyright laws that I've recently shat out apply to any content I can access from within said household - which is to effectively say that I own the entire internet.

Come on now. If the servers and the administrators are located in Canada, then the EU's copyright model should not apply, any more than international tourists can ignore local laws and only obey those of their native country while abroad. It would work in reverse, too - since Africa can get online, pretty much the entire world's digital content should be treated as public domain, as most of Africa's copyright laws range from nonexistent to extremely minimal.

If there were valid claims against work still under Canadian copyright - fine, that's valid, and would would even constitute a rare acceptable use of a takedown notice (regardless of what you think of copyright laws, it's still a valid claim if you're breaking them). That's within their jurisdiction. Violations that are only the case in Europe are not.

No good deed goes unpunished (4, Informative)

Geof (153857) | about 7 years ago | (#21060923)

Allow me to quote someone named Carolus [imslpforums.org] on the IMSLP site's forums:

  1. Canada's judicial system is generally very sympathetic to rulings issued by EU magistrates. Ironically, the USA is considerably more resistant (at least in places) to such meddling by judicial ideologues and corporatist cronies who like to impose their rules on people halfway around the world. Other countries with life-plus-50 terms, like South Korea, are not at all likely to abide by EU pontifications. IMSLP has a strong case, but it was by no means guaranteed that Canadian courts would be sympathetic.
  2. The UE threat was probably just the leading edge for a series of legal threats from a consortium of large European publishers. IMSLP has been under discussion as a major threat in the newsletter of a EU publishers' asscoiation - which has been reported in the American Music Publishers Assocation newsletter. (Curiously, most US publishers are either unaware of IMSLP or don't care.)
  3. IMSLP has grown so huge that its administration and management are really beyond the capabilities of a single person plus several trusty and reliable helpers. The time has really come for IMSLP to be re-constituted in a more institutional form, like Gutenberg or Wikipedia, or perhaps taken over by a consortium of music libraries.
  4. Life-plus-70 is no guarantee. As you can see from the list, there are no less than four composers listed in the C & D letter who have been dead for over 70 years. This could have been sheer stupidity and arrogance on UE's part, or these composers could still be protected in Austria by some sort of special provision in that country's copyright law.

This was just one person providing a public service... uh, sorry, competing unfairly with the copyright cartel.

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (2, Insightful)

derailedcat (1177247) | about 7 years ago | (#21060931)

Well, he *did* ignore their first C&D and only shut down after consulting with lawyers. I would be scared too, if I was a sole proprietor of a website with all my personal assets seizable to pay for potential court fees and fines.

That's how corporations usually coerce individuals. The best thing to do IMHO is to incorporate anything you do to protect yourself as an individual. An LLC is cheap and low maintenance, and if it gets sued, in the worst case you have to shut it down, but you as an individual are safe.

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 7 years ago | (#21060973)

Sure, but in that case it seems to me that the right thing to do is not permanently shut down the site but shut it down temporarily to avoid legal action and ask the community to help reorganize. Create a corporation to run the site so that the individuals involved won't be liable, raise a little money for hosting and if necessary legal advice, and enlist some volunteers so that one person doesn't have to do all the work. It seems that this site has a lot of users and supporters so that it wouldn't be that hard to do.

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060999)

Create a corporation to run the site so that the individuals involved won't be liable

You obviously have never run your own business. Corporate status, for the most part, does not protect individual owners from liability. Common misconception.

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (1)

scgops (598104) | about 7 years ago | (#21061161)

Creating a corporation is a lot of work and wouldn't lesson the guy's problems. If you are the head of a corporation, and someone sues the corporation, who do you think has to hire a lawyer and go to court?

Re:Seems like he caved to an empty threat (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | about 7 years ago | (#21060935)

That is the issue right there. Even though he has committed no crime, he would have to spend a large amount of time and money defending himself even though he is said to be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

The C&D simply stifles those who do not have the time or money to fight it.

The site took too much work to maintain (5, Insightful)

scgops (598104) | about 7 years ago | (#21061141)

Seriously.

I never heard of the site or the operator before this story, but a quick read of his forum makes it pretty clear the guy was already worn out from the workload of maintaining the site. He would have walked away sooner or later. The cease and desist letter merely hastened the inevitable.

Fan sites and other labors of love nearly always evolve into large and larger doses of labor with decreasing amounts of joy and love. The sites days were numbered long ago.

-DaveU

Prior Art (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 years ago | (#21060863)

Could not the existing public domain music melody sequences be compared to current copyrighted works and be shown to have already be written in public domain music?

They are suing for 12 sequence notes these days- I think it is likely that many 12 sequence notes are already public domain. All it needs is some computer crunching between still copyrighted songs and public domain songs to compare them.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21060947)

Well, there are only 7 notes, or 21 once you consider sharps and flats, so taken in combination with possible repetition, there are only 7,355,827,511,386,642 possible sequences of 12 notes. We could always iterate through all 7 quadrillion of them and copyright them all, and thus insure that all possible music is in the public domain by the time our copyrights expire.

Hmm, I wonder if there is a good way to find the shortest possible composition that has all of those sequences including overlapping sequences...

Re:Prior Art (2, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | about 7 years ago | (#21061195)

See De Bruijn sequence [wikipedia.org] .

You forgot... (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | about 7 years ago | (#21061281)

...you're talking about music!
~7e15 possible combinations for just the notes themselves...but what about rests, and rest/note lengths?
I don't want to even try the math on that one at this time in the morning, but I'm sure it's huge.

Besides which, you could just specify that the notes are off by a certain small frequency, so that it isn't truly an A# or B, but that it is actually a note without a name somewhere in between.

Re:You forgot... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#21061667)

Note lengths are implicitly taken into account by the grandparent; it doesn't remove sequential beats with the same note and there is practically no difference between two crochets on the same note and one minim. Adding in rests is just another symbol, so you have 8 instead of 7. This gives 68,719,476,736.

That said, the actual number of combinations is much smaller since transposing a sequence would not be enough to stop it being a derived work, which eliminates a huge number of the options. The same is true of transposing the music into a different key.

Absurd (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | about 7 years ago | (#21061823)

While there is much math in music, this is one time 1/4 + 1/4 != 1/2

As both a Pianist and a Drummer, I find it ridiculous for you to attempt the explanation that two quarter-notes and one half-note can, even for the sake of argument, be considered to be equal.
It has been a while since we've had a wind instrument in our jam session, but maybe your thought would hold true for them. Then again, how many flute solos do you hear in modern music?
As far as I can tell, the great-grand-pappy was talking about the number of notes, not beats (since it does, quite clearly, state "12 sequence notes" and never mentions a time frame). I'm simply implying the estimate was too small, by many degrees.


Hell, if you push me hard enough, I may ask for the relative volume of each note to be taken into consideration in your accounting (though, by now you're just adding to infinity).

Re:Prior Art (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#21061663)

Today's microtonal composers show that there are far more than the twelve tones of the chromatic scale.

Re:Prior Art (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 7 years ago | (#21061593)

This has already been discussed elsewhere.

IIRC, the conclusion was that when you account for the fact that not all combinations of notes are ever going to work musically, it is mathematically impossible to write a truly original piece of music.

Unfortunately I can't find a citation for that, so you'll have to either take my word for it, be better at searching than I am or conclude I'm speaking rubbish.

The power of choice... (3, Insightful)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | about 7 years ago | (#21060879)

Choose to get all your favorite media products from the kind, anonymous repository of media on the Internet. Not only can you find your favorite popular media for free, but you can also do so without unwittingly sponsoring the Mafiaa and the other dickcheese that keep pushing the ever-oppressive envelope on copyright law.

I fully intend to avoid shelling a single dime to any of these asshats for as long as I shall live. They're obviously not playing fair, so why should I?

Time to change copyright ... (2, Interesting)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | about 7 years ago | (#21060893)

"where copyright extends for 70 years after the composer's death"

... Change copyright to 20 years or less; this gives them a reason to keep producing quality, rather than turning out like this Pop-Tart [befuddle.co.uk] .

Re:Time to change copyright ... (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 7 years ago | (#21061035)

Nah, it'd encourage them to produce more pop crap, since investing in something that might take a while to catch on would be risky.

Granted few of the modern big-names have been around 20 years thus far, but it'd definitely panic them and make 'em pickier than they already are (but not in a good way.)

Make copyright the same as perpetuities. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#21061173)

In the U.S., back a few centuries ago, some fairly bright people realized that it's not healthy to let people lock up assets in trusts that last either forever, or effectively forever. And so they created rules against these types of perpetual financial instruments, which are commonly known as 'perpetuities,' and created a hard limit on how long you can lock assets away: usually the life of the person creating the trust, plus 18 or 21 years (figuring that's the longest possible time that it would take for their youngest-possible direct heir to reach majority).

Somehow, though, we've never viewed Copyright in this same light, even though many of the same issues apply to it, and I think the same logic could be applied to the term. At most, for a work created by an individual in their own name, the term of copyright ought to be their life, plus 18 years. For a work created for a corporation or for hire, the term ought to be 50% of the average lifespan of a citizen, as defined by the latest Census. (The logic being, that's sort of the 'average' individual copyright term, using an idealized model where a person is equally able to produce a work anytime after reaching majority until after they die.)

Although personally I think a copyright term of 15 years would be more useful to the public and society at large, I think that life+18 would come closer to satisfying the number of people who believe (wrongly, IMO) that an author has a "right" to exploit their work for their entire life, and for their children's childhoods.

How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1, Interesting)

simonbp (412489) | about 7 years ago | (#21060905)

Last I checked, Canada was not a member of the European Union...

Re:How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | about 7 years ago | (#21061047)

I know a director who ran into a similar problem with one of his movies. Canadian copyright lasts 50 years after the artists death, while in America, I believe it is 70 years. The CRIA came after him for copyright infringement, because he put a 51 year old song in one of his movies, and he had to argue to the Canadian Recording Association that Canada is not a province of the United States. This is more evidence why copyright law is foolish, and hindering the very people it is supposedly protecting. It would appear that we Canadians have watched too much South Park, and are actually starting to believe that we are not a real country. I'm an artist myself, and when I'm dead, I want everyone to steal my shit right away and use it for anything they can think of. when they come after you, direct the layers to this comment, and promptly tell them where they should go, and what they can go do with themselves.

Re:How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#21061241)

I want everyone to steal my shit right away and use it for anything they can think of.
This is not terribly hard to do -- just be sure to specify it in your will. I know of some people who have looked into having this done. One of them decided to direct that a portion of money should be used to make an announcement to this effect in the local newspaper, just so that it would be permanently recorded somewhere. (Since wills do not normally become part of the public record just by themselves or anything, there'd be no evidence to show that they're in the public domain unless you did something like this, and directed people where they could find the official document.) I guess a cheaper version might be Usenet?

The fellow isn't dead yet, so I don't know how it'll pan out, but I thought it was an interesting idea.

Re:How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | about 7 years ago | (#21061939)

Um.. it's a 51 year old song... did the artist die right after making it? You said Canadian copyright lasts 50 years after the artist's death, so... doesn't it sound like the song was likely still under copyright?

Re:How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | about 7 years ago | (#21061995)

oh, Im sorry, I worded that wrong. the artist died 51 years ago. The director actually held off making the film for several years, just so this song would enter the public domain and he could use it. He also wanted to use an American song that was only 30, but the family refused to give permission, and the amount of money they wanted for the song was doubble his movies budgit. (its was a $60 000 movie, and this guy owns all his own gear scores, films and edits himself, so that cash is purely for actors and transportation)

Re:How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1)

PHPfanboy (841183) | about 7 years ago | (#21061061)

Yeah, but most Canadians are of European origin, so I guess the music publisher can go after their descendents until 70 years after their death. (I'm guessing that Mr.Xiao-Guan Guo from the International Music Score Library Project might have a good line of defence....)

Re:How could the EU shut down a Canadian company? (1)

Chrisje (471362) | about 7 years ago | (#21061201)

It is however a member of the Commonwealth, and as such you can still find pictures of Her Majesty the Queen of England there.

Canada, Australia, India and South Africa.... Colonialism. History.

I like it (1)

Jehosephat2k (562701) | about 7 years ago | (#21060927)

As a composer of piano music, I can't wait for these people to try to shut down the release of my music on the Internet this year. I will sue for millions.

morally right, legally wrong (1)

xeno (2667) | about 7 years ago | (#21060945)

This is the sort of morally right but legally wrong (in some places) service that ought to move into an anonymously-hosted service such as Freenet. There are several caveats to this tho -- it only works for a community-supported decentralized project, it's harder to maintain, and it's a tacit admission that the activities are impermissible in some locales. On the other hand, there are some things -- works of art in public domain, classic texts, referential materials, unpopular political speech, and the like -- that ought to have a safe haven.

What kind of safe haven? Safe where information that /ought/ to be free (libre) can be posted and retrieved by all, but not pushed on anyone, not traced to anyone, and not deletable. Unfortunately there are certain commercial entities (not all -- I'm not anti-captialist) that have made a mockery of IP laws in the US And EU, and they have considerable influence. A while back, I saw a political sticker with a skull and crossbones, with the line "Voting is not the only answer" under it. While that's a little extreme, there is a time for civil disobedience, and a mode for using technology to simply override the restrictions of those who are morally wrong. A purely legal fight may take decades or even lifetimes, so sometimes it's better & faster to just destroy a bad business model that has societally-destructive effects by technical means, if not proper ones.

Also (and I know this will come up), no, Freenet and Tor are not nests of pedophiles where sheet music is lost in the filth. Yes, there are unfortunately visible and inevitable misusers of anonymous networks, but whatever the trolls might say, pictures do not cause abuse (and as this week's events demonstrate, there are very positive effects to abusers clickitying their i-thought-it-was-distorted faces on teh intarwebs). On the other hand, freedom to inform does cause aid to come to those who need it in a political/refugee sense, and freedom to share does further the cause of art and literature in a locked-away-text or book-burning sense. I continue to support these anonymous networks for the same reason I would not demand that we have a crime-free neighborhood before coming to the aid of those who need safe harbor in a more immediate sense.

Re:morally right, legally wrong (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 years ago | (#21060971)

I saw a political sticker with a skull and crossbones, with the line "Voting is not the only answer" under it. While that's a little extreme...

True. There must be a better way of changing the law than poisoning politicians.

Re:morally right, legally wrong (1)

darthdavid (835069) | about 7 years ago | (#21061233)

To be fair it could've also been advocating committing maritime crime against them...

foo (0, Offtopic)

Magustrench (525844) | about 7 years ago | (#21060965)

foo

unified copyright will be pushed because of this.. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 7 years ago | (#21060991)

Of course now if anyone really pushes the matter and shows how clearly retarded and one-sided this is, the RIAA/MPAA etc... will push a lot harder for a unified copyright system just as horrid as the USA's is now. Only this time they will have the excuse of preventing similar occurances liek this in the future.

Such Bullshit. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 7 years ago | (#21061045)

Another control-hungry bunch of fuckheads ruins it for the rest of us. The content people already went after the guitar tablature. What's next -- MIDI files?!

I wouldn't use Freenet, but... (1, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | about 7 years ago | (#21061279)

...maybe something like the Kad Network. Decentralised, and almost completely untraceable. Create a date marked tarball of the website, and put it up. Then host a SHA256 checksum for the file on IRC somewhere, to prevent big media compromising your trust by distributing files claimed to be from you but containing viruses. They do this on P2P in order to try and deter people from using it.

Whenever you've got changes/new scores, upload another version of the tarball. You could either create a private mailing list (prolly better cos that way you can keep track of who knows about it) or use a text file on Kad itself to notify safe people about the new file.

Freenet is unbelievably slow, and contains a lot of junk that I can well understand some people not wanting to be associated with. Not only that, it being so slow means that about the only thing it's really good for hosting is HTML, and not even that in most cases.

Re:I wouldn't use Freenet, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061447)

cool, I'm glad there are hard-working people like you dreaming up better ways we can all take other people fucking hard work without paying them a single fucking penny.
you dickhead. You are the reason the RIAA exists.

Re:I wouldn't use Freenet, but... (1)

petrus4 (213815) | about 7 years ago | (#21061503)

you dickhead. You are the reason the RIAA exists.

Yep. Want to know something else? We're winning.

Mutopia Project - All legal sheet music in USA+EU (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21061419)

Try the Mutopia Project [mutopiaproject.org] - all their sheet music is out of copyright in both the USA and the EU.


Not that this lessens the tragedy of a site having to shut down due to baseless threats which would cost too much to defend against.

Makes Perfect Sense (1)

giafly (926567) | about 7 years ago | (#21061511)

Apparently this wasn't enough for Universal Edition, who found it necessary to protect the interests of their (long-dead) composers and shut down a site that has proved useful to many students, professors, and other musicians worldwide
You guys and your life-ist bias! If I were promoting the music of dead musicians, the last thing I'd want is competition from live musicians, so I'd have shut down this site too.

request seems reasonable (3, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | about 7 years ago | (#21061531)

If you read their letter, they didn't ask him to shut down, they asked him to filter his IP addresses to prohibit accesses from regions where their copyright is still in force. That seems like a reasonable request to me.

The reason he shut down was because he considered that too much work. I'm sorry, but downloading a geolocation database and using it to filter requests is not a lot of work. In fact, from his remarks, it sounds like running the server was just becoming too much work in general and this was simply the final straw.

It think it's stupid that they the publishers still hold the copyright, but that's an issue to be taken up with the legislatures. The fact that they have these rights in Europe is clear, and it's reasonable for them to try to enforce them.

Re:request seems reasonable (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | about 7 years ago | (#21062173)

> they asked him to filter his IP addresses to prohibit accesses from regions where their
> copyright is still in force. That seems like a reasonable request to me.

Say you have images on your website that show people drinking alcohol. Now some organisation from a foreign jurisdiction asks you to filter access to these images for visitors from said region. Would you do it? Is it a reasonable request to follow? Setting things up and keeping the system current does not come for free. And there is the question if you should do it at all.

Re:request seems reasonable (1)

zotz (3951) | about 7 years ago | (#21062197)

"If you read their letter, they didn't ask him to shut down, they asked him to filter his IP addresses to prohibit accesses from regions where their copyright is still in force. That seems like a reasonable request to me."

Would it not be more reasonable to ask for the filtering to be done closer to home? Ask ISPs in their jurisdictions where their laws apply to filter his IP addresses.

(Not that I think either is all that reasonable mind you. I am making no claims as to that.)

all the best,

drew

http://openphoto.net/gallery/index.html?user_id=178 [openphoto.net]
Underwater Fun and more...

Not again ... (2, Informative)

guerby (49204) | about 7 years ago | (#21061699)

This is unfortunately not a first, the canadian site "Classiques des Sciences Sociale" collecting social science texts was threatened in 2003 by a french editor over works public domain for 50 but not in 70: the story is here (in french) [classiques.uqac.ca] . After a big fuss, the editor went away, but copyright owners never learn...

Zombies have rights too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21062113)

"Apparently this wasn't enough for Universal Edition, who found it necessary to protect the interests of their (long-dead) composers and shut down a site that has proved useful to many students, professors, and other musicians worldwide."

Who can blame them? I mean, I'd be motivated too if a bunch of zombie composers were constantly demanding royalties. If they don't get what they want, they might start asking for brains instead.
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