May 17, 2022

University of Virginia Library & Music Library Association Announce Publication of “The Public Domain Song Anthology” (A New, Open, Free to Download EBook)

From a Joint News Release (via UVA Library)

Aperio, the University of Virginia’s open access press, and the Music Library Association are pleased to announce a joint publication: The Public Domain Song Anthology by David Berger and Chuck Israels. This collection of 348 songs with modern and traditional harmonization is available for all to use and is free of copyright restrictions. The original songs and the anthology itself are in the public domain, which allows the material to be studied, performed, adapted, and shared without constraint.

By making this anthology an open access title, we foresee broad use of the resource both inside and outside of educational settings. The PDSA gives teachers and students free and easy access to hundreds of popular, folk, and jazz songs in a single publication. The anthology also solves a problem for performers by sharing songs that can be played confidently without violating copyright. Berger and Israels have made contributions to the public domain as well, helping to preserve and give new life to the rich legacy of these songs — many of which are at risk of being forgotten or overlooked.

Bob Schwartz, a lawyer who also leads his own quartet, recognized the potential for this publication to support musicians and live music after he noticed an uptick in copyright enforcement and royalty collections in DC area venues. Determined to play more songs in the public domain himself, Schwartz said, “I realized I knew the perfect people in music and in law to create and authenticate an anthology of public domain popular music.” Schwartz enlisted Berger and Israels, nationally recognized jazz arrangers and band leaders, to curate and write the PDSA.

Some features and benefits of the PDSA include:

  • A unique and comprehensive collection of popular songs in the public domain
  • Easy access — the anthology is available for free as a digital download and the songs are available individually in PDF, XML, and Sibelius formats. The PDF version is optimized for printing.
  • Easy to use and share — as a public domain resource, users don’t need permission to copy, play, build upon, and share this work.
  • High-quality standards through curation by leading jazz experts and peer review from musicians and members of the Music Library Association
  • Enriched with introductions from Berger, Israels, Schwartz, and Peter Jaszi
  • Most songs are on a single page to allow for easier play.
  • A renewed legacy: users are encouraged to share their story on how they’re using the PDSA by tagging us on Twitter (@AperioUVA, @MusicLibAssoc) and sending us a note to

Direct to Complete News Release, Learn More About the Authors

Direct to Download Full Text: The Public Domain Song Anthology
393 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.