Announcing: The Public Domain Song Anthology

from the the-public-domain-is-good. dept

When we learned about this project a couple of years ago we promised Bob Schwartz we’d run a plug for it when the time is right. Today is Jazz Appreciation Day and the crowdfunding has begun, so the time is now right. Here is Bob?s plug:

You realize something needs to be done and you are the only one crazy enough to do it. This happened when my law and music worlds collided: A D.C. restaurant stopped booking live music due to license demands from a Performance Rights Organization. I suggested that bands could play “originals,” and play from a book of Public Domain popular music ? but no such book exists ? even though as of Jan. 1, 2019 more music is entering the Public Domain.

I realized I knew the very best music, law, and library people to create such a book, of 370 songs, and to give it away ? in text and musical notation software, free for creative use and adaptation ? as an Open Educational Resource. And to add up to 50 more “1924” tunes next Jan. 1. But this would mean raising all the money in advance to pay the curator / arrangers, who have agreed they would not claim any purported (and dubious) rights in their research, notation, harmonization, notes, or formatting, or in the compilation itself. If any such rights exist they will be licensed cc-0.

I’m happy and relieved to report that the Public Domain Song Anthology will be acquired and sponsored by The Music Library Association (MLA), Peabody Institute (Johns Hopkins), the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia.

These university libraries and other MLA members have raised their share of the necessary funds, including for the publication of a print volume for subscribing libraries and donors. The rest, according to plan, must come from a public-facing crowd-funding campaign. Mike and Techdirt, who have their own share of worthy causes, have generously agreed to let me include this link to the Indiegogo page for completion of this project, which includes avenues for corporate or foundation sponsorship. For other means, including donor-advised support, contact me or MLA’s Open Access Editor Kathleen DeLaurenti. Thanks.

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Comments on “Announcing: The Public Domain Song Anthology”

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27 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Overly officious, self important, unhearing, asswipes

"…A D.C. restaurant stopped booking live music due to license demands from a Performance Rights Organization."

I am wondering what Performance Rights Organizations would do if a restaurant booked live entertainment that ONLY used music from this book. Nothing good, I suspect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bars and restaurants are no place for intelligent people.

The normal hostility amplified by the internet era, combined with overpricing and a big waste of time makes them loser venues. Also if you’re a "winner" your loser waiter will probably spit or piss in your food and drink. Abuses of power should always be presumed. Look at how nasty people are on this site. You want them handling your drinks and talking about you behind your back then using your personal info to rob you? Be their guest.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Weird. I knew this would be the regularly scheduled thread for you to pointlessly attack real artists, but I didn’t know restaurants would be your target as well. What’s the matter – did you get kicked out again because whatever mental disease you manifest here also appears in real life? If so, my condolences and I hope you start taking whatever medication you so desperately need.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Bars and restaurants are no place for intelligent people.

The normal hostility amplified by the internet era, combined with overpricing and a big waste of time makes them loser venues. Also if you’re a "winner" your loser waiter will probably spit or piss in your food and drink. Abuses of power should always be presumed. Look at how nasty people are on this site. You want them handling your drinks and talking about you behind your back then using your personal info to rob you? Be their guest.

So you are a paranoid shut-in, afraid to go out in public because the masses will hate you for your greatness.

So you come here, hiding behind the AC, to prove your great wealth and intelligence to the unworthy people you hate.

Please take your meds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I call bullshit, good sir. I definitively prefer paper music to a tablet myself, and most musicians I know also use paper music. Paper works better. If you need to write something on it you don’t need a PDF editor, you’re not constrained by screen size…

Eh, anyway. I imagine there might be a PDF edition. You could even make one! It’s public domain!

Kathleen DeLaurenti says:

Re: Re:

We are making all formats available of the publication; print will be limited to folks who pledge at the $100 level an above. We thought a lot about doing a digital-only edition, but had demand for print. In addition to a PDF that can be edited with any notation software that reads MusicXML, we’ll also be making the original Sibleius sheets (which can be read with NVDA software for those with a screen reader) available as well!

sumgai (profile) says:

First Thing I'd've Said...

Ya gotta love the fear factor, engendered by this, our very own police state. Let some jerk even intimate that he has the power to bust one’s nannies, and just watch the "victim" bow down faster than any one of Trump’s lackies.

If I’d been the restaurant owner, the first thing I’d’ve said would’ve been "show me the paperwork. I wanna know that you cover absolutely all musicians, and absolutely all of their works, in perpetuity. Elsewise, I’m gonna give you this here free mallet, and you can go pound sand."

Reminds me of the "other" Nigerian problem, where they have more PROs than they do home-grown musicians.

….

in re: The Topic At Hand (helping fund the project);

I’d love to visit and perhaps cough up dough to help out, but that linked site seems to know more than I do about how to browse the web. IE11 is still being distributed today by Microsoft, so I’m not sure why any business would turn people away for using what comes with Windows.

(And a special note for all you ABMers: Yer preachin’ to the choir, so don’t bother. Besides, my quibble isn’t with your mistaken belief that you know more than myself about personal security, it’s with websites that mistakenly think they know more than their users about personal security.)

sumgai

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

If I’d been the restaurant owner, the first thing I’d’ve said would’ve been "show me the paperwork. I wanna know that you cover absolutely all musicians, and absolutely all of their works, in perpetuity. Elsewise, I’m gonna give you this here free mallet, and you can go pound sand."

And that would be all well and good up until you get served with a lawsuit that you could not realistically fight due to a lack of time/money (a problem the PRO will not have). At that point, you will have two choices: Bankrupt yourself and your business to fight a lawsuit you might win at some distant point in the future, or bow to the will of the PRO so you can stay in business.

Yes, it is something of an extortion racket. Yes, it is complete bullshit. Knowing those things will not change the reality of the situation.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: First Thing I'd've Said...

There are at least two PRO’s in the US, ASCAP and BMI (if I remember correctly), and opposing them seems like a waste of money, as I have never heard of anyone winning against them. You pay the lawyers and then you pay them. The difference here would be if all music from a certain establishment was from this collection (all public domain) there would be an argument for the court (which is certainly where you would wind up). An expensive argument, and one that you should win, but still expensive. Then there, of course, is the question of whether this course of music would attract/satisfy the clientele.

Now if a group of restaurants, let’s say geographically diverse, got together to fund that lawsuit/defense (depending on who sues), then it might be economically feasible.

Bob Schwartz says:

Trolls are now a fact of life & some PD issues can be tricky but this has been researched several times over. One point of the Book was to show the PRO agent the authority that it’s PD — if they can’t read music good luck to them. Since not every band wants to play this music, a larger goal was to make the music available for educational use so it won’t be FORGOTTEN — PD status in music is not as helpful as in literature, all for reasons we’ve encountered in developing this Book. Read the Indiegogo page. For those who want paper: yes. For those who want digital: Will be XML, Sibelius, and in PDF as a single book or a la carte. And if an issue arises we expect no shortage of pro brono legal assistance to this project.

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