International Music Score Library Project

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Petrucci Music Library
IMSLP logo (2016).png
Logo used since 2016
Web address;
Commercial? yes (subscription)
Type of site
Music score online library
Registration Optional (required for contributing and unconstrained access)
Available in Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
Content licence
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
Owner Project Petrucci LLC (private company)
Created by Edward W. Guo (Feldmahler)[1]
Launched February 16, 2006
Current status Online; Reopened (June 30, 2008)
(Closed October 19, 2007 – June 29, 2008)

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), also known as the Petrucci Music Library after publisher Ottaviano Petrucci, is a subscription-based project for the creation of a virtual library of public domain music scores, based on the wiki principle. Since its launch on February 16, 2006, over 300,000 scores and 35,000 recordings for over 93,000 works by over 12,000 composers have been uploaded. The project uses MediaWiki software to provide contributors with a familiar interface. Since 6 June 2010, IMSLP has also included public domain and licensed recordings in its scope, to allow for study by ear.

From December 27, 2015, the project moved to a subscription based model, where users who have not paid for a subscription are subject to a 15-second waiting period to download certain files, newly uploaded files not downloadable for the first few days, and advertising.[2] Subscriptions cost between $1.90 and $1.14 per month, resulting in a price range of $22.80 for 1 year to $273.60 for 20 years. According to Norman Lebrecht, the change was met with a "rising surge of anger amongst composers and musicians", whereas comments to Lebrecht's article were mostly in favor of the change.[3]



The site was launched on February 16, 2006. The library consists mainly of scans of old musical editions out of copyright. In addition, it admits scores by contemporary composers who wish to share their music with the world by releasing it under a Creative Commons license. One of the main projects of IMSLP was the sorting and uploading of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach in the Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe (1851–99), a task that was completed on November 3, 2008. Besides J.S. Bach's complete public domain works, all public domain works of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Joseph Canteloube, Emmanuel Chabrier, Ernest Chausson, Frédéric Chopin, Arcangelo Corelli, Claude Debussy, Vincent d'Indy, Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, George Frideric Handel, Jean Huré, Albéric Magnard, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Erik Satie, Florent Schmitt, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Alexander Scriabin and Jean Sibelius are available as well as a large percentage of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Liszt, and the works of many others as well.

Besides providing a digital repository, IMSLP offers possibilities as a musicological encyclopaedia, since multiple and historical editions of a single composition can be uploaded. Also, pages on publishers provide valuable information, and the work pages themselves often contain a large quantity of information, e.g. roles in an opera.

IMSLP is recommended as a research tool by MIT,[4][5] which also uses it extensively for providing scores for its OpenCourseWare courses.[6][7] It is suggested as a resource by the Sibley Music Library[8] and by libraries at other universities such as Stanford University,[9] University of California, Los Angeles,[10] Brown University,[11] University of Pennsylvania,[12] University of Wisconsin–Madison,[13] Oberlin Conservatory of Music,[14] Manhattan School of Music[15] University of Maryland,[16] University of Washington,[17] University of Cincinnati,[18] University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee,[19] Appalachian State University[20] in the US, McGill University[21] in Canada, University of Oxford,[22] University of Cambridge,[23] University of Edinburgh[24] University of Bristol[25] in the UK, University of Melbourne[26] in Australia, and others.


A IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library logo used in 2007-2015, based on the first printed book of music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton by Ottaviano Petrucci.[27]

In 2007-2015, IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library used logo based on a score. The score image in the background was taken from the beginning of the very first printed book of music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton. It was published in Venice, Italy in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci, the library's namesake.[28]

In 2016, IMSLP changed its logo to a clean wordmark, featuring its two project names – IMSLP and Petrucci Music Library.


In 2009, IMSLP won the MERLOT Classics award for Music.[29] It was named one of the Top 100 Web Sites of 2009 (in the "Undiscovered" subsection) by PC Magazine.[30]

Closure and reopening[edit]

On October 19, 2007, the IMSLP closed following legal demands from Universal Edition of Vienna, Austria.[31] The cease and desist letter expressed concern that some works that are in public domain in the server's location in Canada with copyright protection of 50 years following death, but which are protected by the 70 years following death term in some other countries, were available in those countries. The administrator of the website, known under the nickname Feldmahler, decided to close down the repository, but left the forums online so that discussions into the best way to proceed could be made:[32]

On Saturday October 13, 2007, I received a second Cease and Desist letter from Universal Edition. At first I thought this letter would be similar in content to the first Cease and Desist letter I received in August. However, after lengthy discussions with very knowledgeable lawyers and supporters, I became painfully aware of the fact that I, a normal college student, has neither the energy nor the money necessary to deal with this issue in any other way than to agree with the cease and desist, and take down the entire site. I cannot apologize enough to all IMSLP contributors, who have done so much for IMSLP in the last two years.

— Feldmahler (project leader)

In response, director Michael S. Hart of Project Gutenberg offered support to keep the project online.[33] This offer was declined by Feldmahler, who voiced concern about having the project hosted in the United States, and consulted the Canadian wing of Project Gutenberg.[32] On November 2, 2007, Michael Geist, a prominent Canadian copyright academic, wrote an article for the BBC discussing the specifics and the wider implications of this case.[34]

This case is enormously important
from a public domain perspective.

Michael Geist

IMSLP went back online on June 30, 2008. Since its reopening, IMSLP has been using a strict copyright policy, where uploaded files are only made accessible for download after the copyright status for three most frequent copyright regimes has been reviewed by staff members. Although the server is located in Canada, files which are not public domain in the US were until July 2010 flagged [TB], for 'Technical Block' or 'Temporary Block', and could not be viewed. The FAQ posted in their forum stated, "Unfortunately, these 'temporary' blocks will be until further notice – possibly all the way until the expiration of term in the USA." [35] After an initial phase, [TB] flagged items have essentially disappeared thanks to the introduction of regional servers operated by unaffiliated organizations (see next).

On 21 April 2011, the Music Publishers Association (UK) issued a DMCA takedown notice against the IMSLP. Go Daddy, the domain name registrar for the IMSLP, removed the domain name "", leaving it inaccessible.[36] The MPA's argument was similar to that made in 2007 by Universal Edition. In particular, the MPA claimed that Rachmaninoff's 1913 choral symphony The Bells violated US and EU copyright.[37] According to the IMSLP, the action is without any merit.[38] Almost 24 hours later, the MPA (UK) announced on Twitter that they had asked Go Daddy to reinstate the domain name.[39]

Subscription introduction[edit]

On December 27, 2015, IMSLP moved to a subscription-based model, where users are expected to pay to avoid a waiting period on some of the files available on IMSLP, and to access certainly newly uploaded files.[3][40][41][42] Users who have not paid are subject to a 15-second waiting period on certain files (excluding Creative Commons-licensed files that constitute a majority of files on IMSLP),[43] are required to wait up to two days to access newly uploaded files, and are shown advertising.[44] Subscriptions cost between $1.90 and $1.14 per month, resulting in a price range of $22.80 for 1 year to $273.60 for 20 years.[45] Longer subscriptions can be obtained by paying to sponsor a famous figure: examples include Johann Sebastian Bach for $440, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for $363, Ambrose for $1112.50 and Hildegard of Bingen for $733.50; in each case the subscriber obtains a subscription for a number of years equal to the number of years since the birth of such person (331 years, 176 years, 1676 years and 918 years respectively).

The project leader Edward Guo[46] claimed the changes were made because the level of funding was "not sustainable in the long run", but also noted that funding had previously "been enough to maintain the site".[47] Guo attributed the change in funding to discussions with librarians at an IAML conference in June 2015. Some contributors to the website expressed concerns that Guo had not properly attempted to raise donations, but without any prior warning, introduced the membership system to monetize their work.[48] As of January 2016, Guo has refused to release any information about the company's accounts, triggering concerns that users could not guarantee their donations are actually needed.

EU server[edit]

On July 10, 2010, a forum thread[49] announced the opening of a new server, located in the Netherlands. This server allows works which are public domain in Canada and the EU to be downloaded legally, even if they are under copyright in the US. The server was initially run by an unaffiliated European organization, while a forum thread [50] later announced that operations had been handed over Project Leonardo, a new unaffiliated company incorporated in New Zealand to "provide web hosting services to online libraries that distribute free contents in any fields of arts and science". Files on the EU server are flagged (EU).

US server[edit]

A similar, also unaffiliated US server allows users to download works public domain only in the US. Unlike the other servers, this one can only be contributed to by administrators and users who have asked for the privilege, though the files are freely accessible for download.

CA server[edit]

On July 1, 2013, a forum thread[51] announced the opening of a new server located in Canada and operated by Project Leonardo, the unaffiliated company that also runs the EU server. This server is especially intended for users located in countries where copyright lasts 50 years from the death of the author, such as Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and many others. Files on the CA server are flagged (CA).

WIMA merge[edit]

On August 23, 2011, an announcement[52] was made that the Werner Icking Music Archive would merge with IMSLP. WIMA had announced the merge on its own site five days before in an open letter to contributors.[53] After working out some technical issues, IMSLP decided to officially commence the merge on August 28. The merge was announced to be complete on July 21, 2012.[54]

Current legal structure[edit]

IMSLP is now owned by Project Petrucci LLC, a private company created to run the website. Project Petrucci LLC was registered as a Delaware Limited-liability company on June 28, 2008,[55] when the site founder was studying at the New England Conservatory.[56][57] The website provides an e-mail address for the site's founder ("preferred"), and a physical address for the company's registered agent in the United States (for "any legal or formal correspondence").[58]

Project Leonardo is an internet service provider that hosts free online content in the arts or sciences.[59]

Open Minds[edit]

On 10 June 2015, Nicholas Lewis, the IMSLP Community Outreach Leader, released Open Minds - an exclusive video series that stems from the idea that positive change can happen "as simply as a single conversation" between two people. Through this conversation, IMSLP aims to bring together the music and arts communities to focus on "collaboration instead of competition, enthusiasm over envy, and patience over provocation". The goal is to address and solve problems concerning art, and build a foundation of ideas upon which people can establish a sustainable system of arts education available for all people.

Similar projects[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (February 22, 2011). "Free Trove of Music Scores on Web Hits Sensitive Copyright Note". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ IMSLP Forums Retrieved 29 December 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b Lebrecht, Norman (30 December 2015). "Musicians are made to wait as free score site goes pay-for". Slipped Disc. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Moore, Christie (2007-01-05). "Wiki of public domain classical scores". MIT Library News. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  5. ^ "Research Guides: Music". MIT Libraries. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  6. ^ MIT (2007). "21M.250 Schubert to Debussy, Fall 2006". MIT OpenCourseWare. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  7. ^ MIT (2007). "21M.262 Modern Music:1900-1960, Fall 2006". MIT OpenCourseWare. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  8. ^ "Request Public Domain Scores". Sibley Music Library. 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  9. ^ "Outside links of interest". Stanford University, Libraries and Academic Information Resources. 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  10. ^ "UCLA Library / Music Library / Music Scores and Sheet Music Online". University of California Music Library. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  11. ^ Quist, Ned (2007). "Selected internet resources for music". Brown University Library. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  12. ^ "The Online Books Page: Archives and Indexes". Penn Libraries. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  13. ^ "Resources: Scores (Printed Music) - Mills Music Library, UW–Madison". University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries. 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  14. ^ Conlib (2007-04-26). "Classical Music in the Public Domain". News from the Oberlin Conservatory Library. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  15. ^ Sharp, Peter Jay (2007). "Free stuff on the web". The Peter Jay Sharp Library, Manhattan School of Music. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  16. ^ "Finding Music Scores". University of Maryland Libraries. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  17. ^ "Musical Scores". University of Washington Libraries. 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  18. ^ "OnlineMusic". University of Cincinnati Albino Gorno Memorial Music Library. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  19. ^ "Finding Online Scores". UWM Music Library. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  20. ^ "Electronic Scores". Appalachian State University Library. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  21. ^ "Scores (online databases and indexes)". Marvin Duchow Music Library, McGill. 2007. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  22. ^ "Useful Links - Music Faculty Library". Music Faculty Library. 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  23. ^ "Faculty of Music: Pendlebury Library - Online Resources". Pendlebury Library of Music. 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  24. ^ "Edinburgh University Library: Resources By Subject: Music Databases, E-Journals, Search Tools & Websites". Edinburgh University Library. 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  25. ^ "Bristol University / Information Services / Internet links". Bristol University Library. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  26. ^ "VCA / LENTON PARR LIBRARY / Music / Websites". Lenton Parr Library. 2009. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  27. ^ "IMSLP:About - IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  28. ^ "IMSLP:About - IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  29. ^ "MERLOT Awards: Exemplary Learning Materials". MERLOT. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  30. ^ "The Top 100 Web Sites of 2009 – Undiscovered: Info – Reviews by PC Magazine". PC Magazine. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  31. ^ Clark, Ken (2007-10-05). "Cease and Desist Letter from Universal Edition AG" (PDF). Aird & Berlis LLP. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  32. ^ a b Feldmahler (2007-10-19). "Open letter". Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  33. ^ Hart, Michael (2007-10-23). "Re: Three quick links on digitizations and their constraints". Book People (Mailing list). Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  34. ^ Geist, Michael (2007-11-02). "The day the music died". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  35. ^ "FAQ Works in TB Status". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  36. ^ IMSLP advised to replace the previous domain name "imslp" in with "petruccilibrary" or "petruccimusiclibrary".
  37. ^ Text of the MPA's letter to Go Daddy
  38. ^ "IMSLP Under Attack" by Carolus, IMSLP Forum (21 April 2011)
  39. ^ Tweet by Will Lines, Music Publishers Association (UK) (22 April 2011)
  40. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  42. ^ "IMSLP music library introduces paid membership - The Strad". The Strad. 2016-01-04. Archived from the original on 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  43. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  44. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  46. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  48. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. ^ "IMSLP-EU". Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  50. ^ "Project Leonardo". Retrieved 2013-07-07. 
  51. ^ "Anniversary and Canadian server announcement". Retrieved 2013-07-07. 
  52. ^ "IMSLP to merge with WIMA". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  53. ^ "WIMA merges with IMSLP, the International Music Score Library Project". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  54. ^ "IMSLP to merge with WIMA". Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  55. ^ [1]
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ "IMSLP-About – IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  59. ^

External links[edit]

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