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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Another near-death experience for the International Music Score Library Project

IMSLP.org holds an extensive collection of public domain musical scores and is reputed to be the largest such collection world-wide. Established in Canada in 2006 by a music college student, and developed entirely by volunteers, the attention to copyright law was scrupulously maintained. Yet the site went offline in 2007 at the insistence of a European music publisher. The complaint was that while some scores may be public domain material in Canada, this may not be the case in Europe. As the BBC noted then, this raised the question of whether the public domain can only exist in an offline form. The site returned a year later and continues to thrive, despite some mistaken press on the part of the New York Times.

However, two days ago, the U.K. Music Publishers Association succeeded in blocking access to the site, via a notice-and-takedown complaint to Go-Daddy (the register of the IMSLP domain name). Go-Daddy immediately froze the domain name. Yet there was no legitimacy to the complaint; at issue was the status of The Bells, by Rachmaninoff. This composition is not only public domain material in Canada but also in the United States. IMSLP posted a detailed response here and filed a counter claim.

Go-Daddy has reversed the action, but this is a sad reminder of the ills of the notice-and-takedown regime. Due process is not the first step, it is the last.


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