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What do you make of music published on ‘copy-proof’ paper?

Good Day,
I have a question which I’m addressing in particular to conductors and choirs (and composers?) who have – or may not have – used choral music that has been printed in a paper that – in theory at least – can not be copied on most copiers. I am asking this question as I have been working on some possible publications with a publisher who uses an excellent grade of paper, which is off white towards the grey side. It is supposedly copy-proof, but when I tried it out at a local printer, I discovered that the copies are not actually all that illegible, but just a little ‘hazy’. That is, they look like copies, but can still be used. The ‘grey’ colour, I discovered relatively easily with a powerful magnifying glass, is imparted by a printing process that simply coats the paper with tiny dots, rendering it a light grey to the unaided eye. When this paper, subsequently over-printed with music, is copied the dots become more apparent, and maybe slightly bothersome.
Has anyone had experience with this kind of paper? Does it bother singers to read from it after a period of time? Any other thoughts on this ‘Owellian’ paper? Would you avoid buying music printed on copy-proof paper?  
Replies (9): Threaded | Chronological
on January 30, 2014 3:59pm
While I would never copy music to avoid purchase (after all, it's not just illegal, it's unethical), there are some legitimate reasons I could see myself needing to copy a page of a piece of music. So no, I wouldn't buy music printed on the copy-proof paper.
on January 31, 2014 7:30am
Both as an accompanist and co-director of a church choir, I would be loathe to purchase music on copy-proof paper as described. I am and always have been militant about purchasing sufficient copies for accompanist and all singers. However, I do find it useful sometimes to make "page turn" and "mark-up" copies of music that is already owned, for my own use at the keyboard and in rehearsal, as well as for selected singers (one dedicated but cantankerous tenor in particular) who regularly mark and re-mark their music so extensively that erasures would not only be a monumental task but likely mangle the paper. For those cases, it's much more practical to make a "mark-up" copy that is discarded when the original copy is filed.
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on January 31, 2014 8:34am
Thank you so much for your sensible insights. So far the 'nays' have it, including mine. This is much appreciated. Unethical choral conductors are becoming a rare breed these days, and the legitimate reasons you all give for wanting to make copies ring true with me both as a composer and conductor. I look forward to further answers- from all points of view.
on January 31, 2014 9:07am
I have never heard of copy-proof paper, thank you for posting about this.
Of course copying music so you don't have to pay for it is unethical, although many students will copy one, say... aria antica from a book when they really can not afford to buy the whole collection and they need to study... and actually now that I think about it this raises other interesting discussions for the future.

What I can say about this, though, is that I agree that music has to be marked and I have done exactly what others here say, made an extra "mark up" copy.
Also, and this is something that may only apply to me: as a person with serious sight problems, I often need to make special enlarged copies of scores for my own use, especially when accompanying. I don't think that most publishing houses offer scores with enlarged print, so many people like me would be out of luck.
on March 15, 2014 8:02am
I just saw this question - sorry for the delayed answer.
I have a feeling that I could outwit the paper with just a few steps with Adobe Acrobat:
1.  scan it in full color
2.  convert it to black and white
3.  send to copier
Have you tried that?
On a personal note:  I might want to talk with you soon about publishing in the modern era from a composer's perspective.  Are you interested?
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on March 16, 2014 8:15am
Hello Philip,
Thanks for your thoughts on this. Thanks in no small way to the responses from a number of choral musicians to my question, I was able to persuade the publisher to use non-copyproof paper for my own publications. I hope he will continue the practice for all subsequent choral publications as he has an excellent approach to publishing in that he attends (Canadian) ACDA conferences - which is where we met a decade ago) and hopes to attend ACDA in 2015. He will possibly become the non-obligatory publisher/printer for TheC7Prize. But that's another story...
I have not tried the conversion you propose, but suspect that the tiny black dots differ only in size from staccato and similar music notation dots. There is no color on or in the paper at all. It only arppears gray because of the hundreds (thousands?) of black dots per square inch. I did try out music printed on this paper on a high grade commercial copier with the capability to reduce the kind of greyness that news papers have when scanned– often due to printed material on the reverse side of the paper. The copies came out just about perfect. Where there's a will there's a way, I'm afraid.
There's no real substitute for integrity!
Yes, interested.
on March 16, 2014 10:57am
There is another reason against "copy-proof" paper, which by the way, should also include paper with a large gray visible watermark. I often create midi files from perusal copies to help me analyze the music and decide if I want to program it. This is especially true for women's chorus music, since most publisher examples are for the SATB versions. My midi creation process begins by scanning the music. If it can't be copied easily, then it can't be scanned correctly. I tend not to program music like that.
Bill Paisner
Director, Southwest Women's Chorus
on March 17, 2014 9:55am
   A good solution is the way many of our elementary school materials are published: the price includes the right to make copies for use by one teacher, or in one classroom or school.  Presumably this price is higher than it would be otherwise, because of the inclusion of the right to copy, but I am happy to pay it and not have to think about the fine points of copyright law and fair use.  For example, if I buy a single copy of a song, may I teach it by rote to my class or choir?  May I write the words on chart paper (that's one way to make a copy)?  May I write the first word of each line on chart paper as a memory aid?  May I make a transparency (another type of copy) for the overhead projector?  May I project the pages directly with an opaque projector (is that a copy?--it produces the same result as the overhead tranparency) ?
   Periodically we sing from individual copies in order to learn to read music, but music (or anything else) in the hand is a distraction, a source of paper noise, and a thief of time with children in non-select groups of 25-50.  They sing better by rote or from a chart, so please, make it easy for me--charge me a few dollars more so I can make copies and get on with making music.  
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on March 18, 2014 9:50am
I used to wish that the tecnicians who develp the grey-dot paper could lend their expertise to budgets large enough for extra copies!
But nowadays, I agree.  Most directors are savvy and honest.  We also lend each other copies.
   I'm starting to re-think what we have done for decades, but i've not tried much action, yet.
I know that some directors have gone to screen use (with music; not just words! :) and have basically eliminated individual copies.  I'd be interested to know how many of you have found advantages there.  My initial thoughts are:
I think the "Up-in-front" [screen/projector] options are good for any age, for the fllowing reasons:

1. Saves paper/more sustainable/earth-friendly
2. Allows director/teacher/leader to point to a certain area for discussion/correction and all know this (rather than, 2 mintes later, after singing confusion: "Oh, I though you were talking about the 'alleluia' at the top of page 3...")
3. Encourages better posture, [assuming the projector is not too high] therefore better singing technique in rehearsal (even if we encourage "music up", the neck-bend thing happens often.)
4. Font can usually be changed electronically for those with vision issues.
5. Avoids the extra hubub as newcomers are given copies, "I didn't get one", or clicking notebooks when the order is changed, etc.
5b - I have seen college-level accompanists work by loading all the accompaniments onto a kindle/iPad type device - and a page-turn becomes a finger-whisk.  No need to carry all those books (happier bodies and lower chiropractor-bills!)
6. Clapping, choral-ography can be done (no folder to hold/put down).
7. Shoulders and neck area more free to allow good air-flow and vowel-shaping.
8. Encourages memorizing - have you noticed how, in screen-used churches, some [even the older congregations] can sing some of the old and new hymns without looking?
Downside might be power-failure (good to have a nice back-up plan... large paper and marker handy, ...or better yet, sing a great call-and-response song like "Amen" where all can participate.)
Those who really take theirs home and study should be given a copy.  But now we can email it to the iPad...
How many publishers now sell a kit (with appropriate charges/composer-contract) that comes with a transparency, or computer-friendly file so that this can be done with words and music ?
It seems that we sing a lot of songs about the earth - but are using it up with all the ink and paper.
I would love to see us continue to explore more ways that composers, publishers, directors and singers can work together positively, rather than try to outwit each other.
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