IMSLP Under Attack

The IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library has long since evolved from being a controversial newcomer to an essential resource for performers and librarians world wide. Contributors include Major conservatories and music libraries and institutions including the Eastman Library and the Beethoven Haus in Bonn.

Today, using a trick borrowed from those who got Wikileaks tossed of’s servers a few months ago, the MPA, or Music Publishers Association, has demanded the IMSLP’s webhost, Go Daddy, pull the entire IMSLP website.

That’s right. Not just one offending file, or a list of offending files, but the entire IMSLP website.

So, there must be a whole lot of illegal files on the IMSLP?

Well, of the nearly 91,000  scores hosted there, guess how many files the MPA found to be in violation. 10 thousand? 5 thousand? 50 thousand?


One piece. Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, op 35.

The only problem is that, in spite of the MPA’s assertions otherwise, The Bells is Public Domain in the US and Canada, so they are perfectly within their rights having up on the IMSLP. Since it is PD, you can also sell it as a reprint in the USA, as Kalmus do. IMSLP has nothing to gain financially. (By the way, all Rachmaninoff becomes PD not in 20 years or 10 years, but in 2014).

Here is the announcement as posted on the IMSLP forum:

IMSLP under attack by Music Publishers Association (UK)

Postby imslp » Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:49 am

IMSLP is currently under an extraordinarily underhanded legal attack by the Music Publishers Association of UK ( 

The MPA, without notifying us, sent to our domain registrar GoDaddy a bogus DMCA takedown notice. GoDaddy took the entire IMSLP.ORG domain down. IMSLP has filed a DMCA counter notice with GoDaddy, however, the DMCA seems to require the registrar to wait no less than 10 days before restoring service. This means that IMSLP is inaccessible from IMSLP.ORG during this period of time. We will be working to restore service as soon as possible.

What is the MPA complaining about? Rachmaninoff’s Bells, which is public domain both in Canada and the USA: … _Sergei%29 MPA’s claim is entirely bogus.

Workaround: You can still reach the site by using either or Note, however, that some links on the site that refer to IMSLP.ORG may be broken; you will have to manually replace IMSLP.ORG with one of the two above domain names manually in the URL bar.

Anyone who is interested in suing or helping to sue the MPA under DMCA section 512(f) (misrepresentations) please contact me at imslproject <at> Note that the feldmahler <at> address is likewise offline.

The following is the e-mail that GoDaddy received from the MPA. IMSLP / Project Petrucci LLC grants everyone permission to reproduce it in part or in its entirety. I also grant everyone permission to reproduce the above post in part or in its entirety. Please feel free to make this incident as widely known as possible.

Dear sirs 

We, the Music Publishers Association, take action to remove unlicensed
copyright material from infringing websites.

We understand that Godaddy are the sponsoring registrar for the website
http://www.IMSLP.ORG which makes available unlicensed copyright protected sheet
music notation which is an infringement of copyright. By assisting this
website, Godaddy are liable to pay damages for secondary copyright
infringement once notice of the infringement has been given.

We therefore request that you withdraw from all associations you have
with http://www.IMSLP.ORG and retract their
domain name so that the website cannot be accessed.

An example of the infringing material on http://www.IMSLP.ORG is ‘The Bells’ by
Rachmaninov which can be reached via:,_Op.35_ … ff,_Sergei) … score_.pdf

This material is copyright protected in most counties including all
European countries and the USA.

Here are the registrant’s details to the best of our knowledge:

Registrant Name:Edward W. Guo
Registrant Organization:Project Petrucci LLC
Registrant Street1:205 S. Charles St.
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Edwardsville
Registrant State/Province:Illinois
Registrant Postal Code:62025
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.6186565143
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:

We have good faith belief that use of the material in this manner is not
authorized by the copyright owner or the law.

The information in this notification is accurate and we confirm, under
penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of the
copyright owner of an exclusive right of that is infringed.

I would be grateful for your response detailing your undertakings by 3
May 2011.

Yours faithfully,

Jake Kirner
Printed Music Publishing Administrator
Music Publishers Association
6th Floor, British Music House, 26 Berners Street, London W1T 3LR
Direct Tel: +44 (0)20 7637 4052
Fax: +44 (0)20 7637 3929 (please confirm fax by sending me an email) <> <>
the_MPA on twitter <>

Site Admin
A balanced legal look at why the MPA’s assertions are baseless can be found here
It ends with a statement worthy of repeating here
“Sad to say, the Evil Empire Strikes Back – all too soon. Too bad that a gang of dying companies running on a failed business model can’t find anything more productive to do with their time (like maybe promoting the works of living composers, instead of playing lawyer over ones dead since 1943).”
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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

All material in these pages is protected by copyright.

13 comments on “IMSLP Under Attack”

  1. Brennen

    Welcome to the modern perversity of copyright and the eternal extension granted the “estates” of great artists. You can thank Disney’s kids. How many composers would have been even more penniless if they couldn’t “steal” from one another?

  2. Andrienne

    Sure, MPA made unconscionable demands – and on false pretenses – but what was GoDaddy thinking, complying with them??

  3. Kenneth Woods

    Exactly! I sure won’t be hosting my website there in the next thousand years. I recommend Portland Internetworks.

  4. Kenneth Woods

    Tim Johnson at The Rambler has more here

    His latest update is interesting

    Update 3: Some words from the MPA themselves, via Twitter (@the_MPA):

    MPA will seek to work with @IMSLP to ensure that all scores made available comply with relevant copyright legislation.

    In the meantime MPA has contacted GoDaddy to request the @IMSLP domain be reinstated.”

    As is Tim’s qualified reading of that Tweet:

    “It remains to be seen what ‘relevant’ means in that first Tweet – that sounds like weasel language to me, and surely the issue of what are the relevant copyright statutes was covered in 2007-8 when UE first brought action. As IMSLP have already explained, under that definition the MPA can have no cause for complaint.”

  5. Kenneth Woods

    As Tim points out, MPA’s offer to help IMSLP determine what material is allowable under relevant copyright law seems doubly suspicious since their submission of the example of Rachmaninoff’s The Bells indicates they don’t understand copyright law very well, or are willing to misrepresent it. How about just saying “sorry, we screwed up, here’s a donation to your hosting costs” and call it a day?

  6. Daniel M

    “GoDaddy’s compliance was pure butt-covering – they’re big enough to be a tempting target for a lawsuit from the MPA. I don’t like it, but I understand it. The MPA’s actions on the other hand are positively scummy. The sheet music they point to is clearly marked with a copyright date of 1920, which puts it into the public domain.”

  7. Wanda

    “Awesome — I’m so glad you’re spreading the word on this. You rock!”

  8. Kenneth Woods

    Already referenced in the link above, but someone asked via email for more details on reprint status of The Bells
    “The Bells, Op.35 is presently available in a reprint edition from E.F. Kalmus in both the USA and Canada, to wit: . It is also available as a reprint from Luck’s Music Library: … ogNo=11742 The full score was until recently available as a reprint from Dover (who has taken it out of print, along with a number of other things – for non-copyright reasons). Thus, the first part of the British MPA’s assertion (The Bells is under copyright in the USA) is nothing less than a bald-faced lie.”

  9. Sam M F

    Supplying of PD music to anyone who wants it just puts a bug up some people’s butts. I consider it an insult to the memories of the artists, who surely would want their work to reach as wide an audience as possible when it no longer needs to pay the bills.

  10. Mary R

    “they’re up now, thank goodness! I had been trying to get on the past 2 days…”

  11. Bruce

    Believe it or not, it gave me quite the scare when I had to perform Beethoven – Cello Sonata No. 2 and my pianist forgot to print out the REST of the first movement last week. Had I not used my super sleuth skills, I might have had to improvise something. I agree with Mary, I’m glad it is up again.

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