Making Copies of PDF Files
  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 30
    I'm joining an Hispanic choir and need to purchase my own Flor Y Canto music. The cost for the two volumes that I think would be most appropriate for me as a singer is $112. I have used these in the past and they are very heavy and inconvenient to work with. They also have a PDF version available for the same price. I have been thinking that maybe it would be better to purchase the PDF version and then print out the music as needed and put it in a binder. That would be convenient and I could put everything in the proper order.

    The problem with that idea is that OCP says I can only use the PDF version in a tablet and cannot print it.

    I have two questions:

    1) Do you think for my own needs and uses it would be better to have the hard copy and just deal with the weight and inconvenience or to purchase the PDF version and just print out what I need as needed?

    2) Do you see that it would be unethical or in any way cheating OCP by printing out copies as needed and only for my own use?
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,172
    Are they really allowed to specify such? If you own a PDF file, why shouldn't you be able to print it - if for personal use, only?
    Thanked by 2francis Elmar
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,711
    It really is not lawful to print a personal-use copy (or "convenience copy") without permission.

    Incidentally, the parish should be paying for the sheet music that you use. I've never heard of a parish that expected choir members to buy the scores themselves. If the choir were independent of the parish, that would be another matter.

    One option that complies with the law is to buy the printed book and remove the binding; then have it hole-punched and keep the sheets in a 3-ring binder. A copy-print shop can do this neatly. I've done this with OCP's psalm book a couple of times.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    My worry is that you wouldn't be able to do so at all, i.e. the file would not allow for printing…
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,711
    Yes, publishers can block printing from a PDF file, though it is may be possible to get around it by technical means.
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  • MarkB
    Posts: 680
    The OCP pdf files of their digital resources are locked, which prevents printing the files or any pages therein. However, it's not hard to find free online services that unlock locked pdfs.

    Letter of the law aside, I don't see how it would be unethical to print pages from a legally acquired pdf file solely for your own personal convenience and use.

    You're allowed to make photocopies of copyrighted sheet music to avoid page turns. Why should you not be similarly allowed to make photocopies of select pages to avoid lugging around hefty volumes? And if you can photocopy convenience pages from a printed edition that you own, there's no moral difference between that and printing convenience pages from a pdf file that you own.

    I have choir members who have difficulty reading the print size typical in hymnals, and they make their own enlarged copies of sheet music to put in a looseleaf binder. Is that wrong? Should they have to struggle to read the small-print music in the hymnal that the parish pays for and provides to them because it's wrong to make enlargements for personal use and convenience? I don't think so.

    I know from an industry insider that OCP and the other publishers have been hurt badly by widespread use of illegally copied music that has sharply reduced their sales.

    Buying one edition, copying it and sharing it multiple times with others is clearly illegal and immoral.

    Buying one edition, whether print or digital, for your own use and making convenience copies strictly for your personal use? I'm not convinced there's anything wrong with that. You've paid for the use of a single edition, and you're the only one using it. That doesn't seem to me to be depriving OCP of anything they are due.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 680
    An alternative you might consider is a subscription to OCP's Spanish digital resource:
    https://www.ocp.org/en-us/catalogo-musical-digital

    $49 for a year, includes rights to print unlimited music for choir/ensemble. Up to ten people may have access to a single subscription. The parish could purchase the subscription and give you access. Or you buy a subscription yourself.

    Win/win.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    There are a vast number of thing that may be grouped under the category of Things can be illegal that are not worth the cost of litigation. That doesn't mean they are without risk of legal exposure.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 991
    The OCP files on offer are ebook, not PDF files. This is a subtle difference, but a notable one nevertheless. That means you need to use a dedicated Ereader application rather than a PDF viewer. That also means any endeavor to print would be made more difficult as well. I personally think it absolutely absurd to sell a PDF copy for the same price as a print product; there are no material costs involved. Many publishers reduce the cost of digital only offerings for this very reason. It would seem to me, therefore, that they are selling the rights to usage of the music, in which case you should be allowed to print. The perennial problem—as others have alluded—is that people will take advantage. Considering the typically-cash-strapped nature of most catholic music programs, and the even more pitiable state of most hispanic music programs, this is little wonder. It is, however, very sad. It's all too tempting to pay for a single copy of the PDF and print 'till the cows come home. No doubt this is why they've offered it in ebook format; it throws an extra hurdle in the way from anyone inclined to abuse.

    If I were you I'd have the church pay for a print edition of your liking. If you are going to be accompanying the group, it needs to be the fully-fledged accompaniment edition for $140. If you're just a singing member of the choir, then it should just be one of the hand-held hymnal versions.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 30
    I recently purchased a PDF version of the responsorial psalms. I hadn't realized at the time that that one was legitimately printable and that the hymnal wasn't. Now I understand the difference and I think there might be problems if I purchase the latter digitally. So I'm going to just buy the books. But now I'm also wondering because of a previous post, if a hand-held hymnal would suffice. Would that have everything including the mass parts?

    Thank you everyone for your responses.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 680
    The Respond and Acclaim pdf is probably printable because it's intended to be used at the ambo but the USCCB has not authorized the use of computer tablets or e-readers at the ambo or the altar during Mass, a restriction that does not apply to choir music. In order to use the R&A pdf in a liturgically licit way, it has to be unlocked for printing otherwise why would anyone buy it?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    I personally think it absolutely absurd to sell a PDF copy for the same price as a print product; there are no material costs involved.


    agreed, but academic publishers are bad about this…In far too many cases, they've already ditched copyeditors, before everyone else did too, and they've reduced the quality of their printed products, which I can't afford as it is.

    Also, I want a searchable PDF, not a scan. It's no surprise that music publishers are weird about this too.
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    If you really are traditional, stick with vellum.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    If you really are traditional, stick with public domain. (GC, polyphony, organ)... but that is very dif with the NO.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores tomjaw
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 350

    Anything anyone can do that costs OCP money and could lead to its ruination is a moral good.


  • MarkB
    Posts: 680
    Disagree, but I see your text is purple.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 991
    No, the ends don't justify the means, so we cant do something morally illicit even if something "good" results from it. (And certainly performing the OCP music isn't a cause for its ruination but rather it's propagation... but do find myself amused at the clearly jesting nature of Gamba's remark.)
    Thanked by 1francis
  • TCJ
    Posts: 779
    I will make copies of Flor y Canto in two situations. The first is because I like to have a binder with music that I can flip through for Mass rather than switching between loose-leaf resources, three HEAVY books, and a couple of other items. I do not distribute those copies to anyone else. They are like page turn copies. The only exception I've made for the choir is to print copies of certain selections after finding out that the EXPENSIVE hard-bound choir version of FyC does not include music for certain hymns still. I am not going to purchase a $140 accompaniment book for each of my choir members so they can have all the notes which should have been put in the choir edition. OCP is ridiculous.
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  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 200
    (To be clear, Gamba's text is purple...)
  • stulte
    Posts: 308
    If you really are traditional, stick with public domain. (GC, polyphony, organ)... but that is very dif with the NO.


    Francis, I can't entirely agree here. I get what you're driving at, but... while churches should make liberal use of PD stuff, they should also support living composers trying to make a living providing new music for current circumstances (e.g. new Saints' feasts, Ordinaries written for specific ensembles at parishes, et ceteri multi). All that glorious polyphony was once new music that the composers were often paid to produce.

    If I were to try marketing my compositions right now, I probably wouldn't sell them in a digital format; only physical copies. When it comes down to it with digital, it's clear that people are very willing to print it as often as they like. So, it should be priced *higher* than a physical copy but with the understanding that you can print what you need so that composers/arrangers can get fair compensation for their work and choirs don't have to worry about whether they have enough legally licensed copies. Hitting the sweet spot which balances a fair price for composers/arrangers/publishers and parishs/choirs while providing value is an opportunity right now I think.

    Looking more at the OP's situation, it's clear that publishers aren't packaging their material in a way which is providing enough value for ensembles. This is partly due to the unstable character of the Novus Ordo with publishers putting out large books trying to cover every situation and expecting a high price for it when people usually need (and can only afford) much less.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    stulte... oh believe me, i am NOT saying to use PD exclusively, otherwise I would be speaking against my own craft!

    But to promote (purchase and perform) the music that is put out by OCP and the likes is truly contrary to the philosophy and theology of sacred music in an extremely high percentage. IMO, we should not participate in supporting their offerings.

    However, in my experience over the many years of selling my PDF files (myopus.com), I have found that those who purchase them purchase the correct amount of licenses for copies being produced for their ensembles. The rate is $1 per copy per person in choir for the lifetime of the existence of the ensemble. This means that if you lose a copy, or if one even becomes worn, it is permissible to discard the old and print a new copy.

    I believe this is a very fair arrangement, gives me a bit of compensation, (nothing to live on, for heavens sake), and is a liberal license to any choir that wishes to perform my original works.

    Now, it may be somewhat of a given, but traditionally minded music directors seem (to me) to try to be more upright in their business affairs and honest with copyright fees, licenses, etc. This may not be the case with a modernist's approach. I am grateful that my clientele prefer to reward me as a composer of modern traditional music, and it certainly shows.

    I wish TLM choirs were more open to performing my (modern?!) works since they are almost exclusively in Latin, but the leaning toward Renaissance and Medieval music almost exclusively seems to come more from the need to remain safe with the known and approved body of RC work, and tend away from any possible air of modernism. I kind of laugh about living composers who feel compelled to mimic the strict style and theory typical in the time of Palestrina et al. Like Mozart, I find their works can become tiresome and boring... (running away fast, again)

    So actually, I think we are probably mostly if not entirely in agreement.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 859
    That's a good point. Many publishers require a minimum amount for digital downloads. So if I wanted to purchase a single copy for myself, or two copies (one for me and one for a cantor) I can't, because the website has a minimum order of 5 or more copies. What if I don't need/want that many? Especially if it's a piece that was requested for a wedding or funeral, that I hope I'll never be asked to play again.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    @Earl_Grey

    I do restrict the purchase of one copy of my work to a minimum of $5... my effort and time is definitely worth that for a performance of a piece at a wedding, even if it is only for one time. (I think it is worth more, actually) but hey!... I don't want it to become prohibitive to purchase and perform my works. From my (a living composer) perspective, I think this is quite fair.

    that I hope I'll never be asked to play again
    I do not have any clients who purchase music with this in mind. Good music is not like kale... you buy it because you like it, and you want to taste it again and again.

    When I directed music for weddings on a regular basis, I made up a list of acceptable repertoire, and was quite ready to defend the reason behind sticking to it. If someone really wanted a piece for their wedding from the OCP fare, I would require them to pay for the one time license. Sometimes they would, and sometimes they took my alternatives.

    Funerals was another matter... I was much more flexible in playing OCP music at their request for reasons we all understand... and of course, there were only ever three selections... OEW and HIAL or BNA.

    My proverbial line... Be Not Afraid! Here I Am Lord... On Eagles Wings!
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  • stulte
    Posts: 308
    i am NOT saying to use PD exclusively, otherwise I would be speaking against my own craft!

    Of course not!

    But to promote (purchase and perform) the music that is put out by OCP and the likes is truly contrary to the philosophy and theology of sacred music in an extremely high percentage. IMO, we should not participate in supporting their offerings.

    Agreed.

    I wish TLM choirs were more open to performing my (modern?!) works since they are almost exclusively in Latin, but the leaning toward Renaissance and Medieval music almost exclusively seems to come more from the need to remain safe with the known and approved body of RC work, and tend away from any possible air of modernism.

    This is a whole other discussion...one well suited to cold beers and hot appetizers!

    I kind of laugh about living composers who feel compelled to mimic the strict style and theory typical in the time of Palestrina et al.

    HEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYY!!!! I resemble that comment! Though, seriously, there's good reason to master the old style (several good reasons, in fact. More beer and food required!).

    So actually, I think we are probably mostly if not entirely in agreement.

    I think so too.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    Though, seriously, there's good reason to master the old style (several good reasons, in fact. More beer and food required!).
    It's one thing to master the old style, to mimic the form, but it's another to get stuck there and never find one's own voice... (theoretically speaking [pun intended])
  • stulte
    Posts: 308
    It's one thing to master the old style, to mimic the form, but it's another to get stuck there and never find one's own voice

    Each of the Renaissance masters had their own voice while sharing a common musical framework. But, the matter of developing a distinct voice compositionally is a huge topic deserving it's own thread.
    Thanked by 2francis CHGiffen
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    The study of progress in harmonic development through the ages is certainly central to that discussion. 19th/20th/21st century composers have added something to the repertoire that is of great value and of single voice. When we think of Barber, Faure, Poulenc, Durufle, Langlais, Part, and the ominous talent of Stravinsky (God deliver Him) and others, there is a revealed beauty that did not exist before these greats came along... we definitely need to support the creativity of living composers of sacred choral music by including their works in the liturgy.
  • stulte
    Posts: 308
    we definitely need to support the creativity of living composers of sacred choral music by including their works in the liturgy.

    I think so too. But, later composers never rivalled those of the Renaissance for contrapuntal clarity. By that, I don't mean that one could hear every part distinctly always, but that the treatment of consonance and dissonance of that era created a purity and clarity of sound which was never again matched (not that there aren't some lovely compositions written after the 1500s!). I'll probably have more to say about that in the AM though. Time for bed!
    Thanked by 2tomjaw ServiamScores
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 991
    I wish TLM choirs were more open to performing my (modern?!) works since they are almost exclusively in Latin, but the leaning toward Renaissance and Medieval music almost exclusively seems to come more from the need to remain safe with the known and approved body of RC work, and tend away from any possible air of modernism.


    Indeed, this is one sticking point for me too. If I compose a beautiful motet in Latin based on a liturgically appropriate text (such as a proper) which is in consonance with appropriate liturgical/musical norms, I see no reason to exclude it (or any other similar “modern” work, for that matter). This inclusion is akin, in my mind, to the idea of legitimate development of doctrine. New generations can bring new things to the liturgy... and in fact we have been explicitly exhorted to do so by various pontiffs the last two centuries. It is indeed an error to get stuck in a virtual past.

    In the end, many on the forum regularly demonstrate that new liturgical music is being composed in a style that is 100% orthodox and in total harmony with genuine sacred liturgy, and such examples should in no way be excluded.
    Thanked by 2francis CHGiffen
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 881
    If you, as a composer, exclude any natural musical developments past the Renaissance from your toolbox, there is zero reason to perform your music over that of an authentic Renaissance composer. That should be reason enough to find a personal voice.
    Thanked by 3francis CHGiffen MarkS
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    Yes... why try to imitate the style and harmonies of P, V, L, O, B, etc., when you will never rival their renditions? It then becomes a grade B (or hopefully not worse) knockoff of the days gone by.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    something new, but still pure and clear. compliments to my colleagues. (from a Missa Brevis) [a countertenor can sing the middle part]
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen stulte
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 241
    No, the ends don't justify the means, so we cant do something morally illicit even if something "good" results from it.

    Very true, but is this copyright law a just law? An unjust law is no law at all. If that is the case, then one doesn’t need to follow it.


    I wish TLM choirs were more open to performing my (modern?!) works since they are almost exclusively in Latin, but the leaning toward Renaissance and Medieval music almost exclusively seems to come more from the need to remain safe with the known and approved body of RC work, and tend away from any possible air of modernism.


    Our choir sings a number of more modern works, albeit most of which are our director’s own compositions (the pip complained about one piece that was written in a Medieval style and now we’re banned from singing it. People would complain to me that it was too “novus ordo-y” Oddly enough, no one complained when we sang a song written by Marty Haugen. The text was from a traditional hymn, but the tune was cheesy. Personally, I prefer to sing Renaissance polyphonic because there is something about it that helps me lift my heart and mind to God and heavenly things that I just don’t get from singing other music.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,711
    Very true, but is this copyright law a just law? An unjust law is no law at all. If that is the case, then one doesn’t need to follow it.


    We could disobey copyright laws if they were to command us to do wrong by commission or omission. But they don't go that far: in the case of music, they impose costs and inconveniences on us.

    The Church copyrights books that it publishes, so that's an indication that the Church doesn't consider copyright generally unjust.

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,376
    A hard test of a law's justice is how cheerfully one could accept its penalties to change it. These might range from a week in a Birmingham jail to being devoured by lions or burning.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    It's complicated. European authors' rights laws are probably more unjust than Anglo-American copyright, which can be dispensed entirely. "Public domain" does not really exist in Europe, at least for private actors; this is why a special Creative Commons license was developed. I'm not sure what the government can do; American government works made in an official capacity are always in the public domain, and Getty and other image services sin gravely by taking famous images, pretending that they are not public domain, and then letting people pay for them, when a free, high-quality version is obtainable from the Library of Congress.

    Also, Mgr Wadsworth has made clear, at least in his private capacity, that copyright serves to preserve the authentic text, at least nowadays. This was in the context of the rather flagrant copyright violation committed by a priest who reprinted the entire missal according to his own design, and others thought it a good idea to encourage this; it'd have been one thing if he'd done it quietly, but sharing photographs caused a problem, and the priest should have asked.

    For our purposes, it also ensures that people get paid, and that's a principle worth defending, even if the Mouse has made the whole thing super complicated, and the statutory regime is a hot mess. Cf. Ius et Iustitium Part I and Part II
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