IMSLP and Naxos split

Edited: October 7, 2018, 8:47 AM · Yesterday I renewed my annual subscription to IMSLP. As many of you may know, that membership subscription has hitherto entitled the subscriber to free access to Naxos's comprehensive CD portfolio for streaming (not file down-loading).

Having completed the IMSLP subscription renewal I downloaded a couple of urgently-needed orchestral violin parts and then clicked on the Naxos Music Library link on the IMSLP web page for my regular wander in that garden of delights, which I last visited in August. I then discovered I could not get into the Naxos library, receiving on screen the message, "This page (i.e. Naxos Music Library) has been deleted."  Specifically, the "IMSLP:NaxosSignup" function had been deleted.

After a few more abortive attempts spread over half an hour (and including a deliberate system reboot for good measure!) I gave up and contacted Customer Support at IMSLP. I received a prompt reply - personal and not computer generated - telling me there was nothing wrong with my subscription account at IMSLP but that Naxos had very recently abruptly altered the terms of IMSLP's access to NML well in advance of a date originally given to IMSLP, and also in violation of the terms of IMSLP's written agreement with them. This means that access to recordings could not be now made via the NML website or Naxos app. This was an unexpected action by Naxos and carried out without any warning to IMSLP.

So what is going on? IMSLP, at this stage, apparently don't know.

The (only) good news is that IMSLP have their own recordings - about 53,000 - linked to entries on their sheet music database. YouTube is of course a useful resource of both live and recorded performances, although the technical quality may sometimes not be all that high.

Replies (11)

October 7, 2018, 10:14 AM · Further thoughts: As a Brit in the UK, the other side of the Atlantic, I can only make some sort of a guess from a fair distance and wonder if copyright issues could be behind it. IMSLP is a Canadian company, and Naxos (US) is a US company. Canadian copyright law (and its UK equivalent) is far less stringent than US copyright law. Is it possible that Naxos (US) has been pressured, internally or externally, to make this unexpected move?

If the reason for the break is financial then I would have thought this would have been mentioned by Naxos at some stage, possibly with a view to negotiations.

Edited: October 7, 2018, 10:33 AM · As you can imagine this has prompted some discussion on IMSLP, not all of which I've read.

As I understand it, from now on the NML will be accessible only through links on specific work pages of IMSLP (so only works that are represented on IMSLP can be streamed). I just tried it and it works. However, this does of course mean that recordings of composers for which the sheet music is still within copyright (for example Shostakovich) are no longer accessible to IMSLP subscribers

It does seem that Naxos have been rather high-handed, although I tended to regard NML access as a free bonus of IMSLP membership. What I haven't yet determined is whether non-subscribers to IMSLP (who can still download all the same sheet music but with an irritating time delay) now have the same access to NML as do subscribers?

October 7, 2018, 11:01 AM · The same happened to me. Except that the links on the work pages have not worked for me so far.

On the other hand: I don't understand why Naxos would have agreed to the original arrangement in the first place. Seems like giving away something for nothing. So I understand why they are doing this. Though they might have done this without making people angry.

There is also this: The management of IMSLP is notoriously highhanded and opaque. I wouldn't necessarily trust them to tell the whole story. It would certainly be interesting to get Naxos's point of view.

October 7, 2018, 11:03 AM · I read assurances from the administration that IMSLP subscribers still have access to more than 38,000 "licenced" discs from NML. Like me, they regarded NML access as a bit of a freebie since it arrived after the IMSLP subscription was introduced. Of course, people who later subscribed to IMSLP on the strength of the NML connection may not feel the same way.
October 7, 2018, 11:12 AM · Albrecht - why so I wonder? I'm on the page for Beethoven's Cello sonata No 1. Under Performances: Commercial I find no less than 24 discs. The five I've so far sampled all started streaming immediately. My PC has Windows 10.
October 7, 2018, 2:01 PM · I think I tried to listen to something on Naxos just when the split happened. And maybe my failure to make it work is due to transition problems. I'll try again.
Edited: October 13, 2018, 3:52 PM · Update on the IMSLP/NAXOS situation.

On IMSLP today if you scroll through a list of compositions by a composer and hover the mouse on a particular entry you'll see a small number of capital letters appear after the entry. If one of those letters is "N" click on it and you will be immediately taken to a number of recordings of the piece on Naxos that have been incorporated into IMSLP. Click on a recording of your choice and it streams immediately. You are not, as far as I can make out, actually accessing Naxos itself, but if a recording on Naxos has the equivalent score on IMSLP then you should be able to access that recording from IMSLP.

The cons. You're not in the Naxos website (as you would have been when using IMSLP for the last two years), so there is now no way of wandering in its garden of delights picking up pieces at random which have no equivalent scores on IMSLP. If you pay a subscription to Naxos itself then I think you could still explore it as before and listen to anything it has, but I suspect the subscription is expensive, depending on the quality (MP3 or CD) you choose for streaming.

The pros. What you listen to now on IMSLP is CD quality (22kHz), so well worth having, whereas under the former system the Naxos recording would have been MP3 running at 16kHz. Depending on one's ears and playback equipment this difference between the new and old systems is noticeable.

I still subscribe to IMSLP because it enables me to download a reasonable number of orchestral violin parts every year at the optimal speed.

Edited: October 15, 2018, 1:15 PM · What some may consider to be a con - under the new system you can stream only one work at a time, so, for example, if you listen to Grieg's 1st quartet on Amphion Quartet's CD and then want to listen to their recording of Janacek on that CD then you'll have to look for it in the composer index under Janacek; whereas under the old system you could listen to the entire CD in one go.

Presumably, if you have a separate subscription to Naxos you'll still be able to do that on their website, but possibly at the slightly lower MP3 level of quality, depending on the level of your subscription.

I think I can see why Naxos didn't wish to continue with the IMSLP agreement in its previous form.

October 19, 2018, 4:24 AM · Trevor,

Do you think the upcoming change to Canadian copyright law with USMCA will affect your decision to renew in the future?

We are moving to 70 years after death or publication (depending on person/company), the same as the states.

This will cause some problems for IMSLP.

Edited: October 19, 2018, 6:36 AM · Michael - I (mis?)understood the situation in the US to be 70 years after death or 95 years after publication, whichever is the sooner. Milhaud is a good example of this, only the pre-1923 works being out of copyright. It isn't at all clear to me how the criterion can differ from person to person. Do you know if the rule regarding unpublished mss is due to change too? As I understand it, in Canada these are currently subject to the same "50 years after death" rule as are published works.
Edited: October 19, 2018, 2:16 PM · Hi Steve,

They haven't announced the legislation yet to my knowledge - as far as I know the main/only difference is we are moving from 50 years to 70 years for artistic copyrights.

I'm waiting for the bill so I can see how it will affect things that are already public domain - for example I have arrangements I've made of works that are currently public domain but under the new rules would still be under copyright for a few years.

There is a chance that it may only affect things that are as of yet not released into the public domain - and only things that are yet to be released.

RE:Milhaud, I'm not familiar enough with the situation to comment, but I use this as my reference when dealing with copyright and public domain issues. One of the perks to IMSLP being hosted in Canada is our 50 year copyright term - allowing them to host works that are public domain here but not elsewhere. If people from other countries choose to access and use those works that is up to their moral compass.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Warchal Metronome

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop