Breitkopf ? Scheisskopf, more like!

I recently ordered a copy of a piece of choral music from publishers Breitkopf and Hartel, by way of an on-line sheet music ordering service. The copy duly arrived: stamped on the title page, and every other page thereafter, with ‘Perusal Copy’ in German, in bright blue ink.

Sheet musicHaving paid the full price for the copy – it’s for me to look the piece over, certainly, with a view to deciding if I wish to order further copies to perform with an ensemble, but it’s not a ‘perusal copy,’ as I have paid for it and am not intending to send it back – I was naturally rather blindingly f*cked off.

Speaking to the music ordering service, who were extremely helpful and co-operative, it transpires that this is standard practice by Breitkopf when despatching single copies of a piece of music. Other purchasers have raised the issue with the music ordering company before. Even if you are ordering, say, a single copy of a flute part, rather than a complete set of orchestral parts – perchance your first flautist walked off with the part and has subsequently lost it – you still receive a copy with ‘Perusal Score’ stamped all over it, presumably in order to prevent illegal photocopies being made.

Having made a traditional purchase, I do not expect a piece of music to be stamped or de-faced with anything; it smacks of a lack of distrust on behalf of Breitkopf, who simply assume that a single piece of music has been ordered, in order to make illegal photocopies from it.

Now, you don’t purchase other products, and expect them to be de-faced by a company which is trying to protect itself from having its products ripped off. You don’t purchase a DVD and see ‘Not for Duplication’ across the screen throughout the film, or buy a novel and expect to see ‘Do Not Photocopy’ emblazoned across every other page. I’ve purchased a product for legitimate use, and I expect it to arrive in pristine condition.

So I will be returning the copy to Breitkopf with a stiff missive declaring my f*cking outrage, and shall not be ordering any music from them ever again. If a representative from Breitkopf reads this and would like to reply or comment on their company’s practice of defacing legitimately-purchased scores because they don’t trust their customers, I should be delighted to hear from them and to appraise them rather swiftly of my dissatisfaction, and hear their reason for such outrageous practice.

Scheisskopfs, indeed.

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