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Web Gems: MUSOPEN

Looking for some copyright-free music? Sometimes, this is more difficult than finding public domain images because there are often multiple copyrights in one recording of a song. As MUSOPEN, a site dedicated to increasing access to copyright-free music, explains

Although certain musical compositions may be in the public domain, a particular recording of the musical composition may remain under copyright protection and may not be in the public domain.  The inverse is also true: just because a sound recording is in the public domain does not mean that the underlying musical composition is in the public domain.  There may also be many different sound recordings of the same musical composition that may be protected by different copyrights (i.e., owned by different people).

MUSOPEN aims to increase access to “recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions.” This may be a bit misleading, though, because some of these recordings do have a Creative Commons license. Take this recording of the old classic “Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwolfe, BWV 22″ by our old friend JS Bach. The recording carries a Creative Commons 3.0 license, which requires a remixer to give attribution and prevents a remixer from creating a commercial work from the performance.  The sheet music, however, given that it was written in approximately 1723, is free from copyright restrictions. Right?

 

 

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