The Artful Manager had an interesting post in which he shared some points of view that questioned the assumption that stealing (or giving your stuff away for free) is bad for business (previously). He linked to a couple of studies that suggest that sales of knock-off designer handbags can lead to sales of the actual item. For some people, it turns out, possession of the fake or pirated item can actually lead to a desire for the real deal. For example, author Neil Gaiman discovered that access to pirated copies of his work seemed to boost sales, and convinced his publisher to conduct an experiment testing the idea.
Over at NewMusicbox, composer David Smooke talks about the economics of giving music away for free, and several other composers chime in in the comments. For many it comes down to balancing exposure with control. "As an experiment," Smooke writes, "I recently decided to upload a score to the International Music Score Library Project, which for a very brief time was available for anyone to download. Immediately, I found myself greatly conflicted about doing so. I simply could not condone giving anyone anywhere the ability to reproduce my music at will." Other composers felt differently. Jay Batzner writes,
Personally, I don't understand the notion of "control." I'm the type that makes everything available on my website for free. I'm wondering what sorts of control other composers are looking for? I remember a composer telling me that "You don't want your music, just, out there, y'know?" and for the life of me I have no idea what he meant.
Instead of a copyright notice on his sheet music, Batzner, a composer on faculty at Central Michigan University, writes this: Unauthorized duplication and distribution is Highly Encouraged.