Social Question

troubleinharlem's avatar

Why isn't classical music public domain like pieces of classic literature?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7978points) August 18th, 2010

I can download books that are public domain for free, like Pride and Prejudice, and Canterbury Tales, but why can’t I download classical musicians for free? Why aren’t they public domain?

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7 Answers

Mephistopheles's avatar

You can’t download audio for free because it is the intellectual property of the record company that produced it, just as you can’t steal an out-of-copyright book from a bookstore. It’s the sheet music which is public domain.

Seek's avatar

Here is where you can get royalty-free sheet music for any music prior to 1922.

gregwasserstrom's avatar

There are also recordings of various pieces of classical music now in the public domain. I’ve found to be a great source for public domain things of all kinds.

Dog's avatar

@gregwasserstrom I just have to add a note here with a minor correction to your statement above. Just because something is listed on “” does not mean it is public domain or royalty free. is a catalog much like a library. It is for research and education. So yes- the user can enjoy the contents for free. However the contents are still often still under copyright and cannot be used commercially or for profit.
Please look here for more information on the purpose of the site as well as links to copyright information involving the contents.

Seek's avatar

According to, there are no recordings in the USA public domain. There are, however, royalty-free recordings, and there is a link to a source of royalty-free recordings on the main page.

gregwasserstrom's avatar

@Dog important distinction! Thanks!

Tomfafa's avatar

They are public domain… as long as you play it yourself

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