|Commercial yes (subscription)|
|Type of site Music score online library|
Available in Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
Owner Project Petrucci LLC (private company)
Created by Edward W. Guo (Feldmahler)
Website imslp.org; petruccilibrary.org
The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), also known as the Petrucci Music Library after publisher Ottaviano Petrucci, is a subscription-based project for the creation of a virtual library of public domain music scores, based on the wiki principle. Since its launch on February 16, 2006, over 370,000 scores and 42,000 recordings for over 110,000 works by over 14,000 composers have been uploaded. The project uses MediaWiki software to provide contributors with a familiar interface. Since June 6, 2010, IMSLP has also included public domain and licensed recordings in its scope, to allow for study by ear.
The site was launched on February 16, 2006. The library consists mainly of scans of old musical editions out of copyright. In addition, it admits scores by contemporary composers who wish to share their music with the world by releasing it under a Creative Commons license. One of the main projects of IMSLP was the sorting and uploading of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach in the Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe (1851–99), a task that was completed on November 3, 2008. Besides J.S. Bach's complete public domain works, all public domain works of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Joseph Canteloube, Emmanuel Chabrier, Ernest Chausson, Frédéric Chopin, Joseph Haydn, Arcangelo Corelli, Claude Debussy, Vincent d'Indy, Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, George Frideric Handel, Jean Huré, Albéric Magnard, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Erik Satie, Florent Schmitt, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Alexander Scriabin and Jean Sibelius are available as well as a large percentage of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Liszt, and the works of many others as well.
Besides providing a digital repository, IMSLP offers possibilities as a musicological encyclopaedia, since multiple and historical editions of a single composition can be uploaded. Also, pages on publishers provide valuable information, and the work pages themselves often contain a large quantity of information, e.g. roles in an opera.
IMSLP is recommended as a research tool by MIT, which also uses it extensively for providing scores for its OpenCourseWare courses. It is suggested as a resource by the Sibley Music Library and by libraries at other universities such as Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music University of Maryland, University of Washington, University of Cincinnati, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Appalachian State University in the US, McGill University in Canada, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh University of Bristol in the UK, University of Melbourne in Australia, and others.
In 2007–2015, IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library used logo based on a score. The score image in the background was taken from the beginning of the very first printed book of music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton. It was published in Venice, Italy in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci, the library's namesake.
In 2016, IMSLP changed its logo to a clean wordmark, featuring its two project names – IMSLP and Petrucci Music Library.
In 2009, IMSLP won the MERLOT Classics award for Music. It was named one of the Top 100 Web Sites of 2009 (in the "Undiscovered" subsection) by PC Magazine.
Closure and reopening
On October 19, 2007, the IMSLP closed following legal demands from Universal Edition of Vienna, Austria. The cease and desist letter expressed concern that some works that are in public domain in the server's location in Canada with copyright protection of 50 years following death, but which are protected by the 70 years following death term in some other countries, were available in those countries. The administrator of the website, known under the nickname Feldmahler, decided to close down the repository, but left the forums online so that discussions into the best way to proceed could be made:
On Saturday October 13, 2007, I received a second Cease and Desist letter from Universal Edition. At first I thought this letter would be similar in content to the first Cease and Desist letter I received in August. However, after lengthy discussions with very knowledgeable lawyers and supporters, I became painfully aware of the fact that I, a normal college student, has 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 cannot apologize enough to all IMSLP contributors, who have done so much for IMSLP in the last two years.
In response, director Michael S. Hart of Project Gutenberg offered support to keep the project online. This offer was declined by Feldmahler, who voiced concern about having the project hosted in the United States, and consulted the Canadian wing of Project Gutenberg. On November 2, 2007, Michael Geist, a prominent Canadian copyright academic, wrote an article for the BBC discussing the specifics and the wider implications of this case.
IMSLP went back online on June 30, 2008. Since its reopening, IMSLP has been using a strict copyright policy, where uploaded files are only made accessible for download after the copyright status for three most frequent copyright regimes has been reviewed by staff members. Although the server is located in Canada, files which are not public domain in the US were until July 2010 flagged [TB], for 'Technical Block' or 'Temporary Block', and could not be viewed. The FAQ posted in their forum stated, "Unfortunately, these 'temporary' blocks will be until further notice – possibly all the way until the expiration of term in the USA." After an initial phase, [TB] flagged items have essentially disappeared thanks to the introduction of regional servers operated by unaffiliated organizations (see next).
On 21 April 2011, the Music Publishers Association (UK) issued a DMCA takedown notice against the IMSLP. Go Daddy, the domain name registrar for the IMSLP, removed the domain name "imslp.org", leaving it inaccessible. The MPA's argument was similar to that made in 2007 by Universal Edition. In particular, the MPA claimed that Rachmaninoff's 1913 choral symphony The Bells violated US and EU copyright. According to the IMSLP, the action is without any merit. Almost 24 hours later, the MPA (UK) announced on Twitter that they had asked Go Daddy to reinstate the domain name.
On December 27, 2015, IMSLP moved to a subscription-based model, where users are expected to pay to avoid a waiting period on some of the files available on IMSLP, and to access certainly newly uploaded files. Users who have not paid are subject to a 15-second waiting period on certain files (excluding Creative Commons-licensed files that constitute a majority of files on IMSLP), are required to wait up to two days to access newly uploaded files, and are shown advertising. Music commentator and critic Norman Lebrecht described in a blog post a few days after the change that the change was met with a "rising surge of anger amongst composers and musicians".
The project leader Edward Guo claimed the changes were made because the level of funding was "not sustainable in the long run", but also noted that funding had previously "been enough to maintain the site". Guo attributed the change in funding to discussions with librarians at an IAML conference in June 2015. Some contributors to the website expressed concerns that Guo had not properly attempted to raise donations, but without any prior warning, introduced the membership system to monetize their work. As of January 2016, Guo has refused to release any information about the company's accounts, triggering concerns that users could not guarantee their donations are actually needed.
Naxos Music Library
On April 18, 2016, IMSLP announced on its Twitter account that all subscribers will have access to the Naxos Music Library.
On July 10, 2010, a forum thread announced the opening of a new server, located in the Netherlands. This server allows works which are public domain in Canada and the EU to be downloaded legally, even if they are under copyright in the US. The server was initially run by an unaffiliated European organization, while a forum thread later announced that operations had been handed over Project Leonardo, a new unaffiliated company incorporated in New Zealand to "provide web hosting services to online libraries that distribute free contents in any fields of arts and science". Files on the EU server are flagged (EU).
A similar, also unaffiliated US server allows users to download works public domain only in the US. Unlike the other servers, this one can only be contributed to by administrators and users who have asked for the privilege, though the files are freely accessible for download.
On July 1, 2013, a forum thread announced the opening of a new server located in Canada and operated by Project Leonardo, the unaffiliated company that also runs the EU server. This server is especially intended for users located in countries where copyright lasts 50 years from the death of the author, such as Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and many others. Files on the CA server are flagged (CA).
On August 23, 2011, an announcement was made that the Werner Icking Music Archive would merge with IMSLP. WIMA had announced the merge on its own site five days before in an open letter to contributors. After working out some technical issues, IMSLP decided to officially commence the merge on August 28. The merge was announced to be complete on July 21, 2012.
Current legal structure
IMSLP is now owned by Project Petrucci LLC, a private company created to run the website. Project Petrucci LLC was registered as a Delaware Limited-liability company on June 28, 2008, when the site founder was studying at the New England Conservatory. The website provides an e-mail address for the site's founder ("preferred"), and a physical address for the company's registered agent in the United States (for "any legal or formal correspondence").
Project Leonardo is an internet service provider that hosts free online content in the arts or sciences.