Audacity’s new owner is in another fight with the open source community

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Muse Group, owner of the popular audio editing app Audacity, is once again in hot water with the open source community. This time the controversy is not finished Audacity – it is MuseScore, an open source application which allows musicians to create, share and download musical scores (notably, but not only, in the form of scores). The MuseScore application itself is licensed under GPLv3, which gives developers the right to fork its source and modify it. One of these developers, Wenzheng Tang (“Xmaderon GitHub) went considerably beyond modifying the app – it also created separate apps designed to bypass MuseScore Pro subscription fees. After thoroughly reviewing the public comments made by both parties on GitHub, Ars spoke at length with Muse Group Chief Strategy Officer Daniel Ray – known on GitHub by the nickname “workedintheory” – to get to the bottom of the controversy.

While Xmader has, in fact, forked MuseScore, this is not the root of the controversy. Xmader created MuseScore in November 2020 and appears to have abandoned that fork altogether; it only has six commits in total – all trivial and all done the same week as the fork was created. Xmader also currently has 21,710 commits behind the original MuseScore project. deposit. Muse Group’s beef with Xmader comes from two other repositories, created specifically to bypass subscription fees. These repositories are musescore-downloader (created in November 2019) and musescore-dataset (created in March 2020). Musescore-downloader describes itself succinctly: “download scores from for free, with no connection or MuseScore Pro required. Musescore-dataset is almost as simple: it declares itself “the unofficial dataset of all sheet music and users on”. In simpler terms: musescore-downloader lets you download things from that you shouldn’t be able to do; musescore-dataset is these files themselves, already uploaded. For scores that are in the public domain or that users have downloaded under Creative Commons licenses, this is not necessarily a problem. But most sheet music is only available by arrangement between the owner of the sheet music and Muse Group itself – and this has several important implications.

Just because you can access the score through the app or website doesn’t mean you are free to access it anywhere, anyway, or redistribute that score yourself. The distribution agreement between Muse Group and the rights holder allows legitimate downloads, but only when using the site or application as intended. These agreements do not give users carte blanche to circumvent the controls imposed on these downloads. Additionally, these downloads can often cost the distributor real money – a free download of a sheet music licensed to Muse Group by a commercial rights holder (eg, Disney) is generally not “free”. for Muse Group itself. The site must pay for the right to distribute this score – in many cases, based on the number of downloads made. By circumventing these controls, Muse Group must pay for costs that it has no way of monetizing (for example, through advertisements for free users) or for violating its own distribution agreements with rights holders (in failing to properly track downloads).

Audacity’s new owner is in another fight with the open source community

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