Netmusik - legal online music download from Danish Public Libraries

By Brian Lind Lauridsen and Ole Bisbjerg, State and University Library, Aarhus


Bibliotekernes Netmusik ("Public Library Netmusic") is a service that allows libraries in Denmark to offer their users music loans directly to their home computer over the Internet. The project went online on september 1st 2004.

The project is based on agreements made between a consortium of public libraries in Denmark, "Bibliotekskonsortiet", the company Phonofile, and a string of copyright owners, including at the time of writing IFPI Danmark, DMF, DAF, KODA, and NCB. The consortium consists of 7 of the largest public libraries in Denmark, and represents the service towards the rest of Danish libraries. Phonofile supplies the music distribution infrastructure.

User perspective

The users borrow music through a portal developed by the State and University Library in Aarhus. Access to this system is controlled through the the user databases of the individual subscribing libraries. When a user registered with e.g. the public Library in the town of Esbjerg wishes to borrow music, he can use his local card number and pincode. No additional registration or signup is required, and the service is free for the user.

The interface is undergoing continuous development. The latest iteration offers search through a single google-like text field, which will query both artist, track title, and album title. Advanced features include suggestion of alternative spelling and text-completion, i.e. entering "Elvis" will give immediate suggestions of included music by Elvis Presley as well as album titles including the word "elvis".

Web service

The other and in the longer term perhaps more interesting entry to the system is as a web service. This version is not directly visible to the end user. An access point, a web service, is made available to other online library resources. When a search is made for a piece of music there, the search system searches the local database, and in addition sends a search request to the net music server. Local search results, physical CDs, books, etc. are then presented together with tracks available from bibliotekernes netmusik. The national portals and have already integrated the netmusic system in this manner.


The music is delivered as wma files with access controlled through Microsofts DRM 10 technology. Windows Media Player will automatically download a licence valid for a number of days, after which the music will expire. Currently 1-day and 7-day loans are supported. Which option is available is based on the agreements with the right holders to the music.

The Music

Approximately 340.000 tracks are available for download. A third of this music originates from the digitization of Danish CDs, which the State and University Library in Aarhus performs as part of its national archives functions. The remaining tracks are delivered by the record companies participating in the project. Both international and smaller Danish companies are among these.

Slightly more than half of the public libraries in Denmark have chosen to participate in the project.


Snapshot of usage statistics July 7th 2005:

Systemet lige nu

113524 tracks available

8984 albums available

305314 downloads total

1295 downloads latest 24 hours

78 downloads latest hour

126 active libraries

129 libraries signed up

The current statistics can be viewed at the top right of this page (In Danish).

For further information, you are welcome to contact [email protected].

Bibliotekernes Netmusik

[email protected]