Set Chopin Free: A Kickstarter to Campaign to Put 245 Chopin Pieces Into the Public Domain

“It is 164 years after Chopin’s death. His music is well into the public domain, yet most people consume it as if it were still copyrighted: from CDs, iTunes, or Youtube videos (many of which are copyrighted). We think Chopin deserves better.” That’s how Musopen.org frames its new Kickstarter campaign called Set Chopin Free. If the campaign reaches its goal of raising $75,000 (it’s already at $34,748), Musopen will work with talented musicians to “preserve indefinitely and without question everything Chopin created.” They will record performances of 245 Chopin pieces in both 1080p video and 24 bit 192kHz audio, and then release them all into the public domain. Sounds like something our readers can get behind. If you contribute to this campaign, you can get some pretty nice-looking gifts, while making your own gift to the cultural commons. Learn more about the Set Chopin Free campaign here. And, of course, we’ll let you know when this project is complete and the public domain recordings are online.

Note: If you want to savor the fruits of another Kickstarter campaign, please visit our previous post: The Open Goldberg Variations: J.S. Bach’s Masterpiece Free to Download

via BoingBoing

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  • Hanoch says:

    I am having trouble understanding this. Hasn’t Chopin’s music already been “preserve[d] indefinitely and without question”? Also, a major reason people buy copyrighted recordings is because of a preference for a particular performer or performance. Why contribute to a recording project before knowing the quality of the performances?

    • David Meek says:

      His music – as in the original compositions – are unquestionably preserved. And there are some recordings available in the public domain. The idea here is to create a single master collection of completely free recordings that will be known to have no rights issues from the first day they are completed. Yes, some people will still choose to purchase other selected recordings for specific performances, but given the horrible ongoing degradation of public domain rights (in favor of near-infinite corporate copyright) both here in the US and around the world, I applaud this effort.

  • Mike says:

    For once I agree with Hanoch. Chopin’s compositions are out of copyright and there is a plethora of free recorded material available online and through libraries. There’s nothing evil about paying royalties to musicians, or the orchestras that hire them, for the pleasure of hearing a great performance. And there’s nothing wrong with having a system that gives musicians a chance of living a middle-class life.

    • Hanoch says:

      Only once?

    • David Meek says:

      Just for reference/relevance, I trained as a musician before changing professions. Many of my friends ended up staying in music, and work in orchestras or in related fields. So I am entirely sympathetic to the idea that musicians should be able to survive & make a living, especially in the trying times for classical music of today (major orchestra strikes, shut downs, etc.).nnnThat does not change the importance or value of what this Kickstarter is attempting to do – I am not, nor do I believe are they, encouraging people to abandon the support of professional musicians. Instead, they are attempting to address a major flaw in our current system: people who want to use creative works in their own projects, but do so legally and with the proper respect to the original creator *and* the performer(s).nnnAs I mentioned before, the near-perpetual copyright world we are living in is making this incredibly difficult: finding easily accessible, high-quality (both in performance and in recording) sources that will not result in a DMCA takedown once you have produced your own derivative work is increasingly a problem. nnnnHaving a single source of known quality that also has a known legal status is exactly what content creators desperately need. That others may also use it for their own pleasure is a secondary bonus – but I think the real core here is getting us out from under the perpetual copyright shadow of these huge mega-corporations that keep pushing back when our common heritage will finally return to us, free and clear.

      • Mike says:

        Hi David,nI guess it really comes down to what you mean in the second paragraph by “proper respect.” To me, proper respect begins with a clear recognition of the fundamental need of the creator (and in the case of a contemporary Chopin recording the term would apply not just to the long-dead composer, but also to the performer) to live a life outside of poverty. If you’re trying to build a system that welcomes more and more skilled people into an international fraternity of unpaid amateurs, you may want to re-examine your definition of the word “respect.”

        • David Meek says:

          I think this is threatening to turn into a descending loop of madness, so I’ll try to make this specific. I think each of us is addressing this from a fundamentally different vantage point: you are primarily focused on the potential impact this will have on current and future performers, and I am primarily focused on what this will give to current and future creative developers. However, I do not believe the purpose or outcome of a successful KS project will be to discourage people from arts patronage – if anything, the more people who have ready access to high-quality materials would tend to increase the overall audience base rather than suppress it. People need to get that initial exposure, and resources like this are a great gateway.nnnnBottom line: I want to see audiences grow, and having a resource like this – regardless of if it serves YouTube creators or curious classical music novices – seems like a win-win.

        • David Meek says:

          I think this is threatening to turn into a descending loop of madness, so I’ll try to make this specific. I think each of us is addressing this from a fundamentally different vantage point: you are primarily focused on the potential impact this will have on current and future performers, and I am primarily focused on what this will give to current and future creative developers. However, I do not believe the purpose or outcome of a successful KS project will be to discourage people from arts patronage – if anything, the more people who have ready access to high-quality materials would tend to increase the overall audience base rather than suppress it. People need to get that initial exposure, and resources like this are a great gateway.nnnnBottom line: I want to see audiences grow, and having a resource like this – regardless of if it serves YouTube creators or curious classical music novices – seems like a win-win.

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