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.

Filed Under: anthology, copyright, jazz, music, public domain, public domain song anthology, public performance


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  1. identicon
    Frank Cox, 30 Apr 2019 @ 9:09pm

    Most musicians today use PDF's on tablets for performing. A printed copy of this book is far less useful than a PDF.

    I threw out all of my printed sheet music some time ago. I have my whole library on my tablet and my piano looks ever so much neater without all of that paper junking it up.


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