Restrictions may apply*

I would like to share an update with you concerning our new feature to import PDFs into Finale. The blog article we shared previewing the feature sparked an energized discussion from publishers, composers and users concerning the broad accessibility of PDFs and copyright considerations.

OCR (Optical Recognition Technology) has been a part of Finale for more than ten years. Providing the ability to import a PDF is really a modernization of the older (TIFF) file format the functionality has relied on. We’ve always worked to ensure that the scanning feature set is configured to protect the rights of composers and rights-holders, and to focus on note entry. Limitations omit Chord Symbols, Lyrics, limit the number of staves and so forth. The PDF import functionality is no exception. In addition to existing limitations, we’ve spent effort developing other restrictions to the feature, such as not to allow the import of password-protected or print-restricted PDFs and more.

As we have stepped through this process, it has surfaced a larger question: Given the need for proactive restrictions, can we still have a legitimate import tool and also safeguard rights of content creators? I can’t help feeling that any effort we spend diluting a tool to safeguard against the potential for misuse is misspent effort. Any restriction can be abused by the truly motivated.

I firmly believe that we need to create opportunities in our software through which we can maximize technologies such as OCR and not restrict them.

The new SmartMusic is this opportunity.

Our vision is to provide high quality content, wrapped in tools for learning, accessible via the web and delivered through a platform that empowers teachers in which rights holders always get fairly paid.

If we are able to leverage technologies such as OCR to speed up and empower the creation process for SmartMusic content, it is a win for all involved. And this is exactly what we intend to do.

It is the decision of MakeMusic to remove the PDF import functionality from the upcoming release of Finale. In fact, we are going to take a further step and remove scanning functionality entirely from Finale. We are serious about the integrity of music rights.

Instead, we will refocus efforts to aim PDF import and OCR technology squarely at creating content for SmartMusic. With this approach, we have an opportunity to push the boundaries of what the technology is capable of and create an unapologetically powerful content creation tool for a fully controlled environment in which all rights holders are fairly paid and have a stake in its success.

Whether we are technology developers, content creators, performers, artists, students or teachers (sometimes all on the same day), we are all in this together. MakeMusic will always endeavor to act responsibly as partners, with the best interests of the industry at our hearts. Our line of communication is always open.


Fred Flowerday,

VP of Product Strategy

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