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Writer's Blog: Broadway Composers Unite to Stop Sheet Music Piracy


Sheet music piracy is a big problem for composers, although the problem gets little attention. Last night Broadway composers gathered in New York City for the Dramatists Guild Anti-Piracy event. Stephen Schwartz, Jason Robert Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amanda Green, Stephen Flaherty, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman and other Broadway composers attended the event to raise awareness of sheet music piracy. The composers were shocked to find that their sheet music was being traded online for free. So they decided to take action and write the downloaders personal emails explaining why it is wrong to steal sheet music and asking them to stop. Certainly young songwriters would be shocked to get a personal email from Schwartz, the creator of the score for the hit show Wicked, for example. Schwartz said, "You wouldn't walk into a music store and walk out with a piece of music under your arm. So why would it be acceptable to do it online? "I just went to the first of the Web sites that I'm going to be emailing, and I typed my name in to see how many individual pieces of sheet music that were available for free of mine over 11,000."

The campaign was started by Georgia Stitt who found out from students that her husband's sheet music was being illegally downloaded online. Stitt's husband is Jaon Robert Brown, who composed the score for Bridges of Madison County. So she decided to start writing songwriting students explaining how the theft hurts composers, who rely on their work to make a living and don't make big incomes like top recording artists. At the event, the composers emailed the owners of the websites that were offering the illegal downloads. They even took an Oscars-style selfie to publicize the event. The AP reports:


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