Musopen is a charity that aims to produce and distribute recordings and sheet music of public domain music.

sheet music

Musopen is an online music library of copyright free (public domain) music. We want to give the world access to music without the legal hassles so common today. There is a great deal of music that has expired copyrights, but almost no recordings of this music is in the public domain. We aim to record or obtain recordings that have no copyrights so that our visitors may listen, re-use, or in any way enjoy music. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.

They’ve currently got material from 29 composers – from Bach to Brahms, Mozart to Mussorgsky. An interesting feature of the project is it allows users to suggest pieces that they would like to have recorded – and to pledge funds to have the recording made. The bid page lists 14 bids with over $1100 pledged.

The recordings produced are dedicated to the public domain and hence can be freely re-used and re-distributed for any purpose – from being shipped with educational projects to being remixed or sampled in new tracks. They use an open knowledge button in their footer to show that the material is compliant with the Open Knowledge Definition. Rufus Pollock, director of the OKF, is an advisor to the project.

If you know any musicians who might be interested in donating recordings, or if you’d like to participate in the project – head over to the contribute page to see how you can get involved!

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at and he tweets at @jwyg.

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