Copyright and the Performance of Early Music

All my MIDI recordings are Copyright © John Sankey, 1939-2005, under the Berne Convention solely to protect the right of all to continue to freely use them. Anyone may copy, link to, distribute or play any of them as much as they wish as long as this notice of copyright and permission to copy is distributed with all copies. (On the Internet, a link to is sufficient.) No one may restrict their further use in any way, by collection copyright or any other means. If the distribution format is any form of audio, it must be derived from the MIDI files using my matching soundfont on a SoundBlaster 32 or 100% compatible system. Anyone is free to modify them as they wish for their personal use, but I require that solely my originals be posted or otherwise made available to others. They are a record of my personal performance on a MIDI keyboard, using Cubase Compact for Windows and a PC with my harpsichord sound bank installed.

See my pages on sustaining sound and consonance for the reasons why I require that my harpsichord's sound be used for distribution of my recordings to others.

As I understand the current practise of international copyright law, for music I record to be free of copyright restrictions all over the world, I may record solely music that meets one of the following conditions:

The copyright list of is an expert forum for such matters.

So, I used the Longo edition of Domenico Scarlatti, but did not dare even look at Kenneth Gilbert's scholarly edition published in France. For Wm. Byrd, I used the Dover reprints of out-of-copyright collections, and Musica Brittanica editions that are claimed to be original text when I could gain access to originals, but cannot use photocopies of these even though most are long out of print. (Local libraries are still under the impression that they can be photocopied, and so refuse to lend most of them!) I use Peters' Urtext editions of J.S.Bach that I own. I will be able to use the Brahms & Chrysander edition (German) of François Couperin, but not the Gilbert edition. I will not be able to use my long-owned copy of Louis Couperin's works - it was published in France....

When the music I play was written, copies were considered a compliment, and a composition by another that carried one's musical idea to new heights was a cause for pride. It is improper that the only use of these people's work protected by today's copyright law is denigration with parody or destructive criticism, and that to praise it with imitation or performance can now be cause for legal action.

I look forward to a return to a world where "he who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." (Thomas Jefferson). That's what my copyright notice really means.

John Sankey
other notes on harpsichord playing