Copyright Compliance: Ethics and Morality
  • In not just one thread, the issue of copyright law compliance has been raised. Recently it resulted in an admonition from Jeffrey Tucker, requesting that these issues be raised in a separate thread. I guess I'm as guilty as the next regarding sending up red flags on copyright.

    I completely understand Mr. Tucker's warnings, and agree that anytime any of us bring up a reference to a CPDL score we're using, or when someone posts a .pdf of a score, we should take it as a "gentleman's agreement" that they've honored the laws in this regard.

    By that same token, it seems that for every church musician who works to scrupulously honor these laws, there are 10 more out there who violate them. Many of them do so out of ignorance, although ignorance of the law is not a legal defence. However, there are those who flout the law, and sometimes they claim that the likelihood of getting caught is small and to not worry about it.

    In the Catholic world, we only need go back as far as the 1980's when the Archdiocese of Chicago was hit with a very highly-publicized and costly federal lawsuit for violation of copyright laws. It was a tough lesson to learn, and those who are aware of the consequences of violating federal copyright laws are sensitive to the civil and criminal exposure to which they are subjecting themselves personally and the parish they serve.

    There are those among my co-workers on the parish staff who roll their eyes and wag their heads when I raise the issue of copyright violations. What should I do if I become aware of a situation, for example, in our parish school where if discovered would expose the school, parish, individual teacher and principal to a minimum six-figure liability for violation of copyright? By my silence, I'm excusing the action, but by speaking up, I'm painted as a meddling fuss-pot.

    Also, as director of music in the parish, I have an obligation to set a proper example. I can't claim moral or ethical superiority if I constantly harp on the "contemporary" music ensemble director for making and circulating illegally produced photocopies to the ensemble, and then draw music for the SATB choir from potentially questionable sources, photocopy them freely and distribute them without exercising due diligence and ensuring the source is in compliance with the law. It matters very little that I believe the kind of music I'm copying is worthy and the contemporary music being copied is not. Illegal use is illegal use, period. It only weakens my position if I can't say with all honesty that what I've pulled from the CPDL, for instance, is in compliance with the law all the while making the contemporary ensemble director's life difficult by raising the spectre of copyright law fines and penalties every time a truly awful piece of contemporary music is being copied illegally.

    I wonder if the CMAA leadership would do a great service to the organization by posting an official "position statement" on copyright law compliance. I'm not suggesting that the subtleties of the law should be explained, but rather a statement that points to the moral and ethical implications of abiding by the laws.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    Just a side note, and not in anyway belittling the importance of comporting ourselves in a moral, ethical and legal manner, but IIRC, when I first came to my present position and began sifting through the overwhelming amount of music in our loft as well as reading up on this copyright issue, I read that the Archdiocese of Chicago, though the "loser" of the lawsuit, never paid a penny of damages, and that the winner celebrated only a Phyrric victory, and went out of business.
    Can anyone confirm?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • G,

    According to my research, in 1984 the Archdiocese of Chicago paid $3.1 million dollars to a publisher to settle the suit out of court.
  • A major part of the problem here has nothing to do with ethics and morality since, after all, many of the concerns over older editions turn on tiny bureaucratic issues, whether a book was registered on December 31 or January 1; that alone can mean the difference between public domain and another 60+ years of protection. This has happened with a number of valuable works from the past. It is a sad fate for great books when their copyright was renewed; the authors or their heirs think they are helping but what they are in fact doing is condemning creative work to the dustbin of history. There is, however, the issue of prudence, and you are right to think about these matters.

    Many of these issues turn on knowledge. It is very common that people who think that they have copyright do not, and for people who think something is not in copyright to be wrong too. Moreover, you can't always trust frontmatter. The main thing is to seek out possible plaintiffs if there are outstanding issues that need to be resolved.

    Here is a wonderful chart that explains as much as a hundred hours of lawyer time. It is not as complicated as it first appears.

    It's not that musicians shouldn't be concerned. It's merely my view that this forum is not a good spot for airing these issues, for we might only end up adding to the erroneous street knowledge out there.
  • By the way, the free art license seems like a great option for composers of new works.
  • I find that many people abuse copyright by making false claims. This is deplorable, and such dishonesty blurs all the lines.

    For example, I have a book in front of me. It is GIA's 59 Liturgical Rounds.

    In the front, it says that any copying at all (even a single copy) or *even* hand copying, or arranging of ANY of those tunes or texts, is prohibited by law.

    The problem is that many of those rounds have been in public domain for almost 400 years. Others have been public domain for almost 200 years. They appear in all the hymn books. They appear everywhere. GIA has printed many of them UNALTERED, and then attempted to copyright the TUNE and TEXT itself.

    This is dishonest, and I would like to see a lawsuit brought against GIA.

    It is wrong and against the law for GIA to reprint a public domain work (like the Tallis Canon) and then claim that to hand-copy that tune is stealing from them, and they will prosecuted.
  • It is an interesting thing. There are no liabilities associated with false claims to copyright, unless there are plaintiffs around to sue for damages. Otherwise, freedom of the press reigns!
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    Arranging is OK for academic purposes=fair use.
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    Unfortnately, not to say its right, but I think copyright problems exist more often because of the publisher wanting to make money. Let's take our favorite "non-profit" company OCP, only because many parishes use their "worship aids." So let's say you have Breaking Bread or Heritage Missal, or Today's Missal/Music Issue and you have a choir that wants to sing in parts. And let's say you have a limited budget. So, in all these materials, there are no choral parts, you have to buy "Choral Praise". Last time I checked, thats about $20-25 a pop. And let's say you have about 15 people in your choir, that's $375, plus shipping, which for that I assume is going to be expensive. Now then you crack open Choral Praise, whoops maybe a few songs you wanted to do are left out. So now you gotta order octavos...See how the money's adding out. Now let's deal with the resp. psalms. Unless you do what my parish does (sing refrain in unison and vs. to psalm tones, so R&A is not needed), and you want to do this legit, you'll have to order copies around $10 a pop, $150, and that's gonna have to get purchased every year. Now God forbid you want to do anything else not in the public domain, that's more money for octavos. Unless you've got a huge budget after paying musicians and instrument repair, the only way you might have to do this is have each member pay his/her own way. That should go over real well, and I'm sure they'll say
    "Why can't you just photocopy everything?" Granted if you used GIA and got hardcover hymnals, the price would probably go down a little.

    Again, I'm not saying its right, just explaining why.
  • john m
    Posts: 134
    I think that is quite intentional. The OCP system is specifically designed so that each step further musically that you want to go involves shelling out more money.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,929
    What other alternatives does everyone use who does not subscribe to OCP, GIA or WLP?
  • Thread on that here
  • These use the official text:
  • I recall one time Holy Mother the Church attempted to restrict access to intellectual property by threatening excommunication. Of course, when the culprit was found out, he wasn't formally excommunicated.
  • I suspect that this wasn't really a case of copyright. It was just trying to keep the physical copies at the Vatican, so purely a matter of property rights. Elizabeth was the first to use copyright in the modern sense, and solely to enhance her power and consolidate the monopoly power of a her church.
  • I stand happily corrected.
  • Heath
    Posts: 897
    This is an issue that really confuses me, especially with the revelation that some stuff that seems to be public domain can still be copyrighted.

    For instance: I wanted to throw a Lassus motet into Lilypond and sing it with my choir. I went over to our music library, photocopied a score from the complete works, and then punched all the notes into Lilypond. In all honestly, I thought this was kosher; surely these notes that are 500 years old couldn't be copyrighted. But now I take it I'm wrong on this . . . because it was done by a "professional editor", then I'm out of luck? So where are CPDL transcribers getting their scores? What's up for grabs and what's not?

    Jeffrey (or anyone else), can you explain this to me, please?
  • Heath, here is that chart again. This pretty well spells it out.
  • If there are various editions of the same piece, and there are no "innovations" (i.e. figure out the ficta and text placement yourself), then you are safe.

    SICUT CERVUS, for example, is public domain. No professional editor can "copyright" the NOTES or TEXT to that piece. There are numerous editions available.

    I am not sure what the story is regarding composers whose works only have ONE edition made.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,929
    I am considering NOT releasing my rights to the US Gov and appealing (transfering) my permanent rights to a 'higher' authority.
  • Heath
    Posts: 897
    Jeffrey, I'm not sure that chart answers this simple question:

    Can something be taken out of the public domain because it's re-typeset and published? More specifically, am I able to re-typeset the piece in question if I'm just taking the notes (no "edits")?
  • It really depends on the date and status of the edition. An edition that uses public domain material and changes it substantial protects only the new material under copyright law. But it is not always easy to know what is new and what is not (there are many rumors on the street that publishers have even been known to add inauspicious changes as a way of foiling people who would use these editions to put out new ones). The only way to be sure is to use an edition that is in fact in public domain.
  • Heath
    Posts: 897
    OK, but how do you find said edition that is in the public domain if no one can copy an existing arrangement? Am I making sense? I'm not sure I'm making sense to myself . . . : )
  • Most likely the publisher is not claiming protection for the public domain material, only the new material. The law clearly states that once something has fallen into public domain it can never enjoy copyright again. The work must be transformed in some way or new material added that enjoys protection. Now, the case of the Rounds book cited above is a mystery. Probably just a case of freedom of the press. People can print whatever they want. Believe me, I've seen far worse cases.
  • A correspondent of mine (also a composer of sacred music) alerted me to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license under which he publishes his works. It seems to say as much as the Free Art License, but uses twice as many words to do so.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Heath asked:

    So where are CPDL transcribers getting their scores?

    Heath ought not to ask awkward questions.
  • Heath, that was the question I raised on another thread. Many of us who contribute to CPDL (yes, check out my edition of Esquivel's In paradisum, it's really nice) work from microfilm or photos of the original sources and contribute scores from our research as a public service. Many others, IMO, are quite suspect. There appear to be a few people out there cranking out scores without showing their "apparatus". I don't mind so much the ones that don't have editor's attribution, but if someone puts their name on it when it really was edited from the original by someone else, that's troubling.

    The editions you see in the collected works volumes are the result a great deal of hard work by an editor and a significant investment by the publisher. To simply copy the edition into an engraving program does not give you license to redistribute essentially a copy of that work by physical, rather than mechanical means. If you find a microfilm of the original and do your own edition (most Renaissance printed music is quite easy to translate and with a little work you can even perform directly from it.), that's fine. The music is public domain. If you want to sell your editions, however, you need permission from the institution that holds the original.

    To make things even more complicated, I know that A-R Editions actually stipulates that you must pay performance royalties if you use their editions.
  • "The editions you see in the collected works volumes are the result a great deal of hard work by an editor and a significant investment by the publisher."

    True, but it is not their MUSIC. The music (much of it) was printed in 1550, or 1575. After a certain time, it falls into public domain.

    Let us please remember what copyright is all about!!!!

    Copyright was designed to help INNOVATORS and COMPOSERS, people who COME UP with great ideas, or COMPOSE masterworks. If someone steals their work, that is wrong, and it hurts them.

    However, if I go to a library, find a work of Palestrina, and copy Palestrina's notes into my editing program, (let us say the notes are A - G - B), that does not make it mine. It does not become my property because I put "A - G - B" on my paper.

    Think of it this way: If I go to a library and take a picture of the Gettysburg Address, that doesn't make it mine. And if I sell a book with my picture of the Gettysburg address, you are FREE to type out the words, and distribute it. Pure and simple.

    Remember that all these works were PUBLISHED in the 16th or 17th century. After a certain time (usually about 70 years?), a work falls into the public domain.

    "To simply copy the edition into an engraving program does not give you license to redistribute essentially a copy of that work by physical, rather than mechanical means."

    This is my point exactly. Copying a work by, say, Palestrina that was published in 1578 and putting it in a complete edition does NOT make the work yours. For certain companies to say otherwise ultimately constitutes theft on their part.

    Now, translations are different. If you find a French poem from 1745 and make an English TRANSLATION of it, you can copyright your translation.

    But, again, the key thing to remember is that these works were published 400 years ago. They fell into the public domain. For a musicologist to go and hand-copy "A - G - B" (music by Palestrina) and then publish it is admirable, but it does not become his. They do not become the composer because they merely copied Palestrina's music (in the public domain for 300 years).

    (Let me qualify this statement: some of the EARLY polyphonic works, like Machaut, really does take translation, and can therefore be copyrighted)

    As an addendum, merely PHOTOCOPYING someone else's edition is illegal and wrong.

    But making your own edition off a public domain work is completely legitimate, because remember that the editors did the exact same thing! (And they were free to do it because the work was public domain).

    Certain museums and libraries would wish that folks have to pay them money if (for example) they own and display a copy of a Lassus edition (printed in 1556), and you use that to make your own edition. But this would be illegal, because the Lassus work was printed hundreds of years ago, and fell into the public domain years and years ago. Therefore, the museum is entitled to . . . nothing!

    Let us take one final analogy: George Washington makes a speech. His speech is PRINTED and made available for purchase in 1780, and therefore falls into public domain some years later (let us say in 1840). Then pretend that all the copies of Washington's speech were lost except for one. Let us then say that a New York Library displays the last extant copy of this speech in 1996. I go to the library, view the speech, and write it down on my pad. Well, I can then do whatever I want to with these words, because they are public domain. Furthermore, the library has no right at all to say I cannot (for example) publish those words in a text book I write, because they have been public domain since 1840. Finally, if someone reads my text book and publishes those same words of Washington on his blog, I cannot say a THING. Because they were not my words to begin with.

    What is interesting is that the "editor" ("copyist," really) in the "Washington Speech" story above would have more choices than the transcriber of Renaissance polyphony. After all, he could choose his own capitalization, punctuation, paragraph breaks, syntax, spellings, fonts, etc. etc. But editor of a Renaissance manuscript generally has no choices to make at all (save text placement here and there). He merely copies the notes as he sees them. Musica Ficta is...just that. In other words, Ficta is notated ABOVE the notes, making it clear that it is not in the original. And any other choices the Ren. polyphony scholar makes (usually alternate readings from different printings) are to be noted in the appendix.
  • You know, Mike, I was taught in grad schools, and then passed that on when I was a lecturer and led an academic schola, that an editor had to have access to a legitimate copy of an Uhrtext or, better, autograph of either the composer or his transcribers before embarking on that "great deal of hard work." And that also presumes that said editor possesses the knowledge and skills to interpret (as do you) both the symbiology and the "intent" as indicated on those early scores before proffering a new realization for publication and use.
    To illustrate my point I would cite John Rutter's edition of the heretofore mentioned Faure REQUIEM. No one in their right mind could come to the conclusion that Rutter, a career-long Faure scholar and devotee, simply cranked out some arbitrary orchestrations or re-voicings and presented it as a "vanity" work guaranteed to fill everyone's coffers.
    OTOH, there are some very prominent composer/arrangers whom I formerly held in some esteem who regularly crank out "cantatas" inwhich they cleverly and craftily make layer cakes, banana splits and all sorts of confections quoting "Passion Chorale" or "Est ist ein Rose entsprungen" and so forth, along with all sorts of hymnody given the concertato treatments, and they're slammed right into the Hal Leonard of Pepper websites as the "latest monumental work" of said genius of modern composition.
    Oh, the humanity.
  • Heath
    Posts: 897
    Color me confused. I read Michael's post and I feel like a world-class heel; I read Jules' right below it and feel justified. Sheesh, why must this be so complex?

    First off, I hope no one thinks of me running around making illegal copies all over the place. The copy of the Lassus score that I made was made with no malicious intent. The way I look at it, I guess I could sit with my laptop in the music library for 3 hours and make the Lilypond file from the original, or I could make a quick photocopy and make the file at my leisure from home or work. I did not re-copy the original and distribute. Again, I did have honorable intentions.

    To follow up on Jules post: let's say that someone finds a lost motet of Palestrina, "transcribes" it and releases it in a collected edition (100 bucks per volume). What if I want to perform this piece with my choir? What are my options? Run off to Italy and try to take a look at the manuscript myself (not likely)? Buy the particular volume of the collected editions? Also, not likely. Re-transcribe it? That's my question which I'd like to have a definitive answer to without spending thousands in legal fees (Very unlikely!).
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    "Color me confused. I read Michael's post and I feel like a world-class heel; I read Jules' right below it and feel justified. Sheesh, why must this be so complex? "

    The Fall...

    Sorry, couldn't resist but I am as ambivalent as you.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Hm - let me take a stab at this....

    So, there are two Brahms complete editions in many music libraries - the old one, from which Dover makes their editions, and a new one. The old one is, well, old, and in the public domain as a result. (Hence why Dover’s Brahms editions are cheap!) You can do anything you want with this.

    However, the new Brahms edition is under copyright. The edition, that is. The music itself may not be copyrighted, but that doesn’t really matter, since what you look at in the new Brahms edition is newly typeset, newly researched, etc. Nothing can be copied from this edition freely for any purpose.

    So, the old Brahms edition is public domain, and you can copy from it. The new Brahms edition is copyrighted, and you can’t copy from it.

    To use the Lassus example - I don’t recall if the Lassus complete works is under copyright, but I suspect it is. So, it would be like the new Brahms, and not able to be used for copying.


    There do exist, somewhere out there, real original manuscripts from which these editors are making the new editions. CPDL editors are free to access these “editions” for creating editions of Lassus etc. because these particular “editions” are out of copyright.

    The absurdity factor, I suppose, comes when there is an exact correspondence between a public domain edition and a copyrighted edition.

    BTW, everyone knows the complete works of Mozart is also online, courtesy of Bärenreiter?
  • Yes, the edition can be protected--layout, arrangement, look, typesetting--but not the music itself, but for changes, in which case only new material is protected.
  • I’m not sure I’m sold on the acceptability of copying from a brand-new edition into Finale, but I’ve not the background to dispute it.

    Either way, I think it’s just a matter of time before for-purchase editions of pieces like Sicut cervus go the way of the slide rule. Unless the octavo size really is that important to folks, that is. (Many CPDL editions are also hard to read...)
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Jeffrey wrote: Yes, the edition can be protected--layout, arrangement, look, typesetting--but not the music itself, but for changes".

    The problem faced by those who lack the editing skills required to work from originals or early copies, yet are still mysteriously able to crank out "new" free scores, is that basic things like particular notes, register, word underlay, time signature, bars etc are so often matters of editorial interpretation.
  • Not to mention that changing register etc. requires no more than a click or two.
  • "basic things like particular notes, register, word underlay, time signature, bars etc are so often matters of editorial interpretation."

    Not for the vast majority of Renaissance music published after 1540. Most of the time, such choices are less significant than, say, the text with which you reprint a public domain speech by Abe Lincoln.

    Musicologists are increasingly finding that this whole issue is a *double edged* blade. In other words, they reprint a public domain work and add, say, a CRESC. mark. They then claim that their edition is copyrighted, because things like that crescendo mark were added by them.

    Well, "Joe Smith" copies their edition (which, again, is merely a copy of a public domain work, NOT their own composition) and "Joe Smith" takes out that CRESC. mark.

    The musicologist wants to sue Joe Smith, but he cannot, because the musicologist's claim to copyright rested solely on minor details like a CRESC. mark. Once Joe Smith takes out that CRESC. mark (easy to do with today's music editing software), he has "stolen" (as it were) the musicologist's trick, and he is untouchable.

    Again, all these issues make a lot more sense when one realizes the *purpose* and original intent of copyright: it was *not* to protect people who copy public domain works and want to pretend that those compositions (the notes) belong to them from thence forward.

    Incidentally, the value of a musicologist's work rests on his scholarship, his annotations, his taste, etc. Serious musicians will always want a musicologist's edition for THESE reasons, and those things (annotations, etc.) are able to be copyrighted. Serious musicians want to know the variants used, etc.

    But that is not the issue here. The issue is whether adding a CRESC. mark magically transforms Palestrina's music into the personal (and copyrightable) composition of an editor. It does not.

    The basic premise is this: as long as no (or minimal) "translation" is involved, there is no difference between copying the notes from a 1560 score, an 1840 score, a 1930 score, or a 1999 score when we are talking about a public domain work.
  • I'm thankful for the lively exchange, and I hope it's been fruitful.

    Permit me to set up a quick "teaser" scenario that may help refocus this line of discussion.

    On the one hand, say you wish to introduce a particular piece by, say Palestrina or Guerrero or, to take an example from above, Lassus. It's not available in print as an octavo, nor is it found in a stand-alone published collection from Oxford, for example. This leaves you with one of two choices: pony up the several thousand dollars necessary to purchase the collected works, then contact the copyright holder of the collection and obtain permission to generate a version of it in the music publishing software of your choice, OR simply go ahead and use the version as it exists in the published collected edition, entering it into Finale or Lilypond or whatever and presenting it to your choir.

    Of course, you could simply give up and decide that since these works are only currently available in the collected editions they somehow are never intended to be used or performed, but rather viewed like examples of flies in amber. After all, according to the current conventional wisdom among newchurch types, this stuff is backward and museum-like anyways. We should be using what the publishers have decided is best for the liturgy.

    On the other hand, our erstwhile "contemporary" music ensemble director has found a great new praise song, all the rage on the local Christian radio station, but it doesn't exist in a published octavo format or a collection intended for use by an ensemble. He (or she) decides to go ahead and make up a version from a lead-sheet copy he got from a friend who faxed it to him from another state because their contemporary group used it, too.

    I guess I'm asking a question surrounding intellectual honesty here: can we with a straight face tell those folks they can't do that (obviously, if you make a cursory review of that hysterical yet practical flow-chart that Jeffrey Tucker provided, you find that's true), while we must fisk and poke at the boundaries of what is or is not "fair use" or a violation of the law with regard to these masterworks? Is it really just?
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    This is strange. About 5 days ago, a poster by the name of Jeffrey Tucker wrote:

    I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but let's make it a principle to avoid this topic, since it really does impinge on legal issues, there is so much 'that is vague (I can tell amazing stories!!), and it doesn't help achieve the goals of this forum.

    Since then, well over half of the postings in the forum seem to have been on the topic of copyright. So I'd like to propose something.

    Let's avoid the topic of how to get new scholas started, led by people of minimal skills, and lacking the dozens of books and other resources that so many people here obviously have. Let's avoid discussing the question of "what would be the best way to overcome resistance from the diocese/pastor/people?" Let's avoid a simple response to "what should we sing on Laetare Sunday?" (sans the responses that give names of music but no citation of where they can be found, nor idea of how we can afford them, obtain them, and learn them in the 2 rehearsals available to us).

    In short, let's avoid discussing the things, other than copyright, that are so important to some of us. Perhaps in doing so we can inspire a whole lot more chat about them. And get back to achieving the goals of this forum.
  • Just a side note on that chart. I know it looks kinda crazy -- almost like a joke. But I promise you, it is the single most valuable sheet I've ever seen on the topic. Really, everyone who cares about this issue should print it and post it for personal reference.

    By the way, I still agree that there is not much point in hashing all this out on the forum. And I too want to get back to fruitful topics. But I've certainly learned one thing about the culture of internet forums. There is no way to stop a topic if people want to talk about it. Maybe this thread will be the end of it.
  • priorstf, how can there be any harm in this, since there is a specific thread DESIGNATED for this?

    My understanding was, Jeffrey Tucker didn't want this thread to happen on ALL threads.
  • I'll reveal my true views in a note to be made public 70 years after my death.
  • david andrew,

    I can tell you one thing: at the University I attended for Grad school in music (must remain nameless here), our Collegium made photocopies from the complete editions AS A MATTER OF COURSE. We routinely sang complete Masses off of photocopies. I am not saying this is necessarily right, but I am merely telling what happened.

    I really don't see any other way to do it than to photocopy the complete editions (not that I am officially advocating it as right and correct, because I am not sure one way or the other).

    I am merely saying that it does happen. And, ordinarily, my University was VERY careful about photocopying copyrighted materials (in the other choirs).
  • For what it's worth, I don't see any problem with discussing this issue at all. It's something that we all need to work out in our minds as we engage in this activity. There's no zero-sum gain here. I can post on other topics today AND this one. That's just silly.

    Anyway, let me offer something that might put some minds at ease. Most of the collected works allow photocopying for study and performance. I have checked on this and had no trouble with the CSIC in Spain or the AIM that does CMM. The one stick in the mud is A-R Editions. They need to sell editions, so they require performance royalties. They do not, however, sell large volumes at high prices, so please do honor their request. They offer the COMPLETE motets of Lassus, a labor of love by one of their premier editors. Check it out. Anyway, don't worry too much about copying monument sets for your collegium. This is what those editions were created for. My one big problem is when someone copies an edition from these into their engraving software and puts it on a website as THEIR edition. That's the problem.

    Finally, I have to disagree with Jules on one small point. Most Renaissance music, even from the late 16th century requires SOME translation. Not everyone understands 1) how to underlay text for ligatures, 2) how to deal with coloration (it still happens in the early 17th century), 3) how to address transposition of chiavette clefs (high clefs), 4) how to make an edition with a metric reduction that makes sense to modern performers, and 5) how to suggest musica ficta and correct wrong notes. Jules knows how to do this, but a majority of people do not. So, the analogy with the Gettysburg address is not really applicable in my opinion. That involves only a few decisions on orthography and punctuation. Even w/o those decisions, the text would still make sense. I might be more convinced with a transcription of the Well Tempered Clavier being a simple use of public domain text(music).

    What to do? Ask yourself some honest questions. If you copy from a collected works, are you denying that company a sale? No. They rely on library sales and you are using an edition purchased by a library. If you copy out an entire volume of the Byrd edition and post it on CPDL. That's a problem.

  • Mike, that is excellent good sense.
  • Without making it seem that I'm "picking up my toys and going home," I'd like to request that the administrators close this thread for now. It seems that it has opened a can of worms, released a genie, whatever cliche you'd care to apply, and I wouldn't want to bring any kind of loss of credibility down on this forum.

    I started this discussion with the idea that questions of legality aside, there was a moral and intellectual question to be answered when it came to accessing some of the more obscure music appropriate to the liturgy from resources like the CPDL or personal websites, as well as music that has since been lost in the vast tomes of collected editions (hence my "fly in amber" comment), relegated to a more museum-like use based in novelty.

    The problem we face is this. We know that so much of this music that is a part of the rich treasury of the Western liturgical tradition, exists in formats that bar them from use because of questions of copyright, fair use and financial liability (collected editions, urtext editions, etc). Therefore, we are forced to use what is provided to us by the publishers or rely to on scholars who are clever and charitable enough (and possessing the skills and the time necessary) to provide usable sources of this music.
  • Discussion is not closed but sunk.
  • Michael, thank you for the excellent post, but I respectfully disagree with several of the points.

    Obviously, a person who would read a Gettysburg address would need to: (a) be able to read, and (b) know how they formed letters in the olden days. But I don't think this is translation.

    Regarding your points:

    (1) this has not been determined for certain!

    (2) as far as I know (and I could be wrong) coloration as regards rhythm is VERY rare after about 1540

    (3) the clefs do not affect the *music,* and folks like Bernard Meier, Willi Apel, and others disagree on what the chiavette clefs mean anyway! (it also partially depends on who was singing, and it could have been men, falsetti, boys, WOMEN, or instruments!)

    (4) seems like a very easy to me: the basic pulse will be either quarter note or half note

    (5) again, I would argue that this is NOT specialized knowledge. Nor is it agreed upon by very many people.
  • Jules, Sure. I take some of your points, but I think you overestimate the general knowledge of how to transcribe Renaissance white notation by most, even well educated, musicians.

    1) regarding text and ligatures. How many people know what to do with a ij or iij? I mean other than guessing? How many regular musicians understand how many notes are in a ligature? I'm not talking chant folks, but others. In any case, some decisions are required.

    2) Yes, coloration is rare, but what if you want to do a piece that has it? Several of the Magnificats I'm working on from 1613 have it.

    3) Meier and Apel may have disagreed, but the theorists as Hogwood points out are pretty clear. Some transposition is necessary. We sang Palestrina's Tu es Petrus a 5 today (unfairly neglected because of the 6vv version btw) and it is in high clefs. I have excellent college sopranos but the whole texture sits way too high. I'm pretty convinced that chiavette requires downward transposition of probably a 4th.

    4) Well, yes, but what about Josquin? A simple reduction puts most of it in whole-note pulse. Not a big problem, but a good editor would decide to reduce another level. Again, how many people just know that?

    5) Ficta is somewhat specialized. How many of the rules can the folks on the board right now offer?

    Thanks for the debate. Always fun.

  • Hi, Mike. Again, excellent points.
    Some thoughts:

    2) in those instances, I think the case could be made that "translation" is present. But if there is one bar that has it, it really is fair to Dufay or Jannequin to claim that just merely translating that one bar makes the piece, in essence, "yours" ??

    3) I looked at clefs in depth for my Master's Thesis, believe it or not --- I agree with you, but arguments that deal with chiavette usually try to "prove" it by saying such pieces are parallels to the plagal modes. I found this (after much study) to be garbage: for every example, there are 3 that disprove it.

    4) my question is whether it changes the music or nor to have it in "halfed" values (which is the smart way, I think). I, myself, do not think that it does "translate" the music. It is tantamount to merely changing the "font" of the Gettysburg address, in my mind. Actually, it is like reducing a fraction! The fraction stays the same! 12 over 14 is the same fraction as 6 over 7.

    5) The problem with those rules (as taught by the few Renaissance theorists, like Morley, and all the others) is that they contradict one another, just like the rules for text underlay.
  • Jules,

    OK. I'm not actually making the case the the music is ever owned by the editor, but that an editor is usually necessary to bring Renaissance music to the modern performer. That editor should be given due credit and and his/her work not be seen as simply copying over the original and fair game for use as an "original" See what I mean? But again, I'm happy if anyone uses my editions (especially since they are of a lesser known, but good composer) as long I am credited with the work that even the easiest transcription entails. This should address everything except no. 3. Not sure what you mean by "are parallel to plagal modes". I think the proof is in the pudding. The parts end up being so high that a choir of men and boys (or falsettists) would be hard pressed to sing them at pitch. Then there are the theorists who make references to these and their transpositions. I've had pretty good success by transposing down a 4th, with the assumption on my part that Renaissance A in Venice and other places tended to be about A=460. This comes out to be actually transposing down a 3rd then. Of course if you use organ or other instruments you need be sure they are pitched at A=460. Oh the challenges of singing old music! One of the most interesting things, though is the polyphonic fabric of those high pieces. The alto lines tend to have pretty wide ranges (further muddying the transposition issue for mixed gender choirs). One could try to steer clear of them, but then one would have to avoid almost every setting of the Regina coeli!