Upcoming changes

Messages from and Discussions about IMSLP

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Bruckner8 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 7:23 pm

My issue isn't "waiting a few seconds." With modern browsers, I can just click my target in imslp, then open another tab and read some news until I'm compelled to retrieve my PDF. (I already use ad-block-plus to hide all ads)

My issue is with the reported "mission" of imslp as a free, important, central storage location for all-things sheet music, and its use of the "ORG" in its domain name. The Choral Public Domain Library is the model that I thought imslp was following, and in fact, assumed so until this new model was thrust upon us this week.

Now I'm convinced that imslp is merely a site for its founders to make money. (Subscriptions are designed to do one thing: revenue stream)

No sweat. Except I feel sorry for the 100s of volunteer contributors and editors who also thought the mission was transparently charitable.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby lxh5032 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:14 pm

I'm sorry, I'm simply not convinced that IMSLP has exhausted its means of funding; in fact, I'm not even convinced that it has tried.

Have there been earnest fund-raising efforts? If there were, they have certainly not been noticeable. Yes, you do need to make people stop and think. This, right now, is well beyond stop-and-think territory, it's this-is-my-road-and-thou-shalt-not-pass-unless-thy-pay territory. Sure, it's your prerogative, but it's also going to stop being a road that people want to use.

You call Wikipedia's banner annoying? I think if you truly polled users, they will say that it's really not such a big issue, unlike the current implementation, and if such a banner had been put up on IMSLP, I doubt there would have been much backlash. How much might have been raised? No one knows, but the fact that it wasn't even tried has disturbing implications. Yes, Wikipedia operates on a different scale in terms of revenue. It also operates on a different scale in terms of expenses.

How many ways are there to get people to stop and think? Banners, maybe. A one-time, limited period redirect to a call for contributions page on a visitor's first view of a session? Even the current method being implemented, but for a limited fund-raising period, and only once per visit, would likely have injected a not insignificant amount of funds. Were any of these ever tried before going to such length? Were there any call for donations on IMSLP, or even on the discussion boards of professional musical organizations? I do not recall any. Under such circumstances, the claims that you have tried many different ways of funding, that you have exhausted your imagination, reflects badly on the credibility of IMSLP's administration, or worse, its competence.

It is disturbing that no discussion was ever put up. It is disturbing that sources of funding were apparently never explored or even considered. And what these point to is the most disturbing of all - how little thought has been put into the entire process. In this thread alone one finds two highly unsettling facts:

1. That you were unable to answer how you are funded. How can I trust my money to an organization that doesn't know where its money is coming from and where its money goes? How can you trust an organization that does not explore its options adequately before going to the nuclear option?

2. You were unable to find Wikipedia's financials before making such a decision. The individual who provided you with the information is an administrator of the site. It implies that no real research was done, no questions had been asked within the site's management, because apparently the answer could have been found simply by asking internally. How is one to belief that this is an informed decision?

Wikipedia is operated by a foundation with certain expectations of accountability. The current events reveal and highlights that IMSLP is a private company operating without any need for accountability, and as this thread indicates, it does not desire to operate under any semblance of accountability. With this, IMSLP has emphatically announced that it is a private entity offering goods and services without the need to be accountable. One of course has the right to monetize a private company as one sees fit, but in such a case IMSLP simply cannot claim itself to be a public institution and will no longer be treated as such. And it is murky moral ground for a private entity to be offering goods and services provided by volunteer contributors.

As it stands, there is no such thing as open access on IMSLP. Students, who undoubtedly form a significant portion of IMSLP's user base, have to click through dozens of 15 second waits if they are, for example, looking up some of Josquin's masses to write a paper on. A pianist looking for a certain sonata has to deal with several wait periods to compare editions. For all practical intents and purposes, browsing on IMSLP becomes all but impossible unless one knows exactly what score one is looking for.

Their only practical option, then, is to pay the subscription fee. Yes, the fee is not very large, but it's not the amount that is the problem. It's the fact that IMSLP has essentially destroyed its entire stock of credibility through an ill-advised, poorly-considered decision. I would rather stop using IMSLP than pay the fee, because I simply don't trust that it would be put to good use.

For those who ask whether I would rather pay for my music - yes, indeed I would. I do, in fact, still buy scores, and when I do I can see where the money is being spent on. I am buying something that I can easily hold in my hand and turn. I am buying the editing work of verified professionals who track and explain their decisions, not the passable but often questionable work of 19th century Breitkopf & Hartel.

I don't write this to try to persuade you to rescind your decision. Frankly, at this point, even if IMSLP pulls back the subscription plan, the damage is done. To me, the credibility of IMSLP management has been completely destroyed. If IMSLP had made public call for donation, rather than put up a subscription system without warning, I might have been willing to donate, and the move to a subscription plan would have been more understandable if such efforts have already been made and were unsuccessful. Now, even if IMSLP withdraws its subscription plan and makes a call for donation, I do not trust it enough to donate to a private company with no accountability.

Yes, someone has to do it. How hard have you asked? I don't know how much money it takes to operate IMSLP. At this point, I am more willing to risk a dozen grands to push IMSLP to operate according to its mission, rather than donate a single penny to improve my own browsing experience only to an organization that has strayed from it.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Boccaccio » Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:56 pm

Disclaimer: I am not a native speaker and have never talked/written about such subjects before, so my text might not be the most elegant one.

When I noticed that there was suddenly a star behind my user name on IMSLP, I wondered what this was supposed to mean. When I found out that it was due to being granted a contributor membership, my first thought was: "Is it April's fools day?" Frankly, I think having this membership model (and introducing it suddenly from one day to the other without any discussion in the community) is a very bad thing. Part of my surprise might be due to the fact that I was not aware that IMSLP is actually owned by a company instead of being a non-profit organization from the community for the community - my fault of not having informed myself about this earlier.

Let me comment on some of the points made in this thread previously:

1. >>Librarians are worried about preservation and sustainability.<<
To me this sounds like other librarians have talked you into worrying about sustainability which for me implies that up to now there has been no real concern about these issues.

2. >>the income we receive from various sources have been enough to maintain the site so far, but I increasingly believe that this level of funding is not sustainable in the long run<<
So this means that right now IMSLP is sustainable?! What is considered the long run? I doubt that one can make any serious predictions about the far future, i.e. looking ahead for more than a year or two. I know that a library project should have the ambition of being long-term (centuries would be fantastic) but since there is no previous experience with internet-based libraries it's hard to make a prediction of what the future of IMSLP or similar projects will be in the end of the day.

3. >>there are several orders of magnitude difference in scale between Wikipedia and IMSLP<<
I am not sure that the difference in scale matters. Both platforms should have a similar bunch of people around. There is the vast majority of people who just profit from using the service without contributing ever. Then there are some people who do contribute by writing article/uploading scores and finally there is an even smaller group of admins who keep the whole thing running in the background. I would reckon that if IMSLP acts on a smaller scale than Wikipedia, it will also require less of these specialists so in the end of the day, things should actually scale smoothly with size.

4. >>the way I have run IMSLP is disrespectful to the classic music world<<
This sounds like IMSLP owes anything to the classical music world. I disagree with this. IMSLP offers a unique service to the classical music world for sure, but so the classical music world has to live with whatever IMSLP offers - or become an active member of IMSLP and help to change things in anyway that is requested.

5. >>I've had relatives of contributors write me angry e-mails saying how the contributor is broke and without a job, but still spends most of his/her time on IMSLP, and demand that I pay the contributor (and to this day I don't think the contributor knows I've been indirectly trying to help his finances). I've had to listen to crying over the phone because a contributor cannot pay his/her bills. The fact of the matter is, being a high-level contributor on IMSLP requires a very specialized skill set and much dedication - otherwise IMSLP would not have nearly the quality and consistency it currently has. Unfortunately, people with such a skill set are usually in financial trouble - it's just the way the music world works I suppose.<<

If a contributor is broke and without a job but still spends most of his/her time in IMSLP, that is his/her free decision. If you go to the park each day and water the flowers you cannot expect anybody to pay you a salary neither.
So if it all boils down to not being able to maintain the current quality and consistency, one probably just has to arrange with it and go for lower quality - this might then in turn attract new people who want to improve quality. Another point might be to explicitly document all the internal standards used at the moment, this way everybody could help to keep quality up.I also highly doubt that the last statement about people with such skills being usually in financial trouble is correct.

6. "witness how we technically have two dozen copyright reviewers but only one is currently active"
Maybe it would be enough to actively look for new copyright reviewers (and similarly for other specialists that are required to run the site). I remember that in the past there used to be a shortage of reviewers, but back then, there was an announcement (either in the forum or on the wiki, I don't remember) that new people are needed and apparently new people were found because at some point the search was closed. I don't see why such an approach should not work for any other type of specialist needed for operating the site unless skills are required that only 2 people in the world can offer.

7. Disclosing finances
I think transparency is a key thing to have. I don't share any concerns about privacy neither for two reasons. First of all, I don't see that making a salary public is a bad thing. If you work e.g. as a state employee, everybody can look up your salary as well. Furthermore, in making finances transparent, there is no need to specify names of employees, just stating that a certain amount of money goes to a certain type of job (e.g. copyright reviewer) would already help a lot.

Finally, a very practical question: Can IMSLP continue to offer scores that were released under a CC non-commercial licence?

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby elainefine » Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:16 pm

Even though I was granted member status a few days ago (before I saw the announcement about it), I still took the opportunity to make a membership contribution to last for five years. The IMSLP is indispensable to me, and I am very grateful for all the work that the administrators put into the project.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Notenschreiber » Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:24 pm

Would it be technically possible to restrict the waiting period to downloads, whereas it is possible to see the scores on the screen at once?

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Sallen112 » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:11 am

What do you mean by this Notenschreiber?

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby lekro » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:46 am

Notenschreiber wrote:Would it be technically possible to restrict the waiting period to downloads, whereas it is possible to see the scores on the screen at once?

It seems that the "View" button next to scores is unaffected by the change and will display a score almost immediately. However, this button evidently only appears after the score has been uploaded for around one year.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby imslp » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:56 am

I can't post long right now, but just two points:

* I think expanding the number of files with the "View" button is an excellent idea. I will talk to Vladimir (who runs Peachnote) and see if we can expand it to include all files.
* No CC-licensed material is subject to the 15-second waiting period - all of these files can be downloaded immediately regardless of whether you are a member or not. (This, in fact, includes the majority of files on IMSLP.)

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Re: Upcoming changes - Tax Status

Postby bjprice » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:03 am

Is IMSLP a US 501c3 charitable organization? Back in 2011 you were thinking about it. When asking for donations, you really ought to state outright whether US donors can take charitable deductions - if so, much more money would be easily forthcoming.

In 2011 you were rightly concerned about the reporting requirements. The IRS has changed the rules quite a bit about 501c3 eligibility and it is much easier now to register than it was back then.

P.S. I find absolutely nothing wrong with having a paid staff - whether you are a charitable organization or not.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Melodia » Thu Dec 31, 2015 6:50 am

So having seen the 15 second thing in action, I really have to agree with previous points.

Having it on every single upload makes it look like the shady file share sites, some of which are complete scams and even ones that aren't are still usually pretty bad.

That said, I can see benefit to it -- a lot of legit, quality sites have similar things. But the difference? THEY DON'T DO IT ALL THE TIME. Instead of doing it for every single upload, set a cookie that expires after either time (maybe a few hours) or a decent amount of downloads (maybe 20) or even X number of megs.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Notenschreiber » Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:14 am

That´s exactly what i mean: Having a view button for each file.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Nobilmente » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:43 pm

I started using IMSLP as an amateur orchestra librarian, and it has saved our orchestra
hundreds of pounds over the last 5 years. Local public libraries, which used to loan music for
free, now make significant charges, and it is cheaper to download and print an orchestral set.

When I asked if the orchestra was willing to make a donation to IMSLP, they were not
sufficiently convinced that IMSLP needed the cash to keep running and so declined.

My conscience has been salved however, by uploading parts that have come my way, including the
collection of a defunct municipal orchestra of the 1930s. I must have been a 'significant'
uploader, because I find I now have standard membership for 10 years. I have uploaded about 50
sets of parts over about 3 years, and have another 300 or so to scan and upload.

However I am now uneasy about putting in a lot more effort, when some may be making direct financial gain from this. Perhaps I was naive in thinking IMSLP was a collaborative effort created for the benefit of its users.

Two issues arise from this surprise decision to introduce IMSLP membership.

1. Who makes these sort of decisions, and how are they accountable to the volunteers who make
IMSLP possible?

2. Where is the information, financial and otherwise, to back this decision?

Others have asked why a call for funds was not made, and what sort of sums were involved. A
clear exposition of the figures might have persuaded my orchestra to make a donation. It would
certainly clarify my mind in deciding whether or not to continue uploading.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby kosboot » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:27 pm

Is IMSLP a non-profit 501(c) organization?

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Nano » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:34 pm

Just registered in order to be able to post a reply on this topic, because I feel strongly about IMSLP.

I am an amateur musician. I have been using imslp for a long time. All along, I was conscious of how unique and invaluable imslp is. All along, I kept wondering for how long such a huge gourmet free lunch would remain sustainable. I kept telling myself I should make a volunteer contribution, but somehow never did.

So, the introduction of a contribution system does not shock or surprise me. I just hope that it works and keeps imslp going.

Of course, a huge donation from a philanthropist to enable the creation of an IMSLP foundation would also work, but in the meantime, I do not mind paying $22.80 a year, or alternatively going from instant wish fulfillment to waiting a few seconds to download a score. I pay a lot of much higher fees that do not give me one tenth of the value that IMSLP gives me. And I am used to delays on the web for stuff that it is a lot less interesting to me than IMSLP.

All the outcry about this obviously derives from a sense of entitlement and a belief that someone should always be available to ensure that our free lunch remains plentiful and delicious forever. Unrealistic.

There is also in my opinion more than a whiff of conspiracy theorism behind all the pressure for divulging all the accounting internals of imslp. Frankly, I do business and pay money to a lot of entities that have much darker business models than anything poor little imslp could ever come up with in its darker dreams, if any. (By the way, I just read that in my native Italy, Apple has just paid 318 million euro in penalty for tax fraud). I find that people are much stronger and vocal in dealing with the little guy (imslp) than with the large corporations that run our lives. Of course, as those corporations are impersonal entities and they are not called "Edward", there is little incentive in lecturing them in hectoring tones on how to run their business to keep us happy for free forever... I suggest we just face the facts of life and give poor Edward a break.

So, long live IMSLP, and best of luck.
Last edited by Nano on Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Upcoming changes

Postby Nano » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:38 am

Having seen the 15 second delay in action, I think it is really completely and utterly painless.

Even though it was repeated for each score I viewed (mostly Mendelssonh today), it did not bother me at all.

It can be annoying, though, if it reminds one that one is too cheap to spend the equivalent of a bottle of half-decent wine on a yearly uninterrupted supply of the greatest music score database ever known to (this) man.

Come on, skip a few trips to Starbucks or just trim slightly your contribution to the Apple/Samsung/Walmart/younameit world-domination fund, and contribute your fair share to IMSLP instead...

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