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ghusa
03-03-2009, 03:44 AM
Obviously you can't pick a song off the latest top 40 and use it in your production without going through all the massive hassle and expense of necessary licensing, but can you use old recordings of say Mozart?
What has been your experience using old music?
Say a commercial orchestra releases a new CD of classical music, the (new) recording would be copyrighten and subject to the same ridiculous hassle of using other music, but if you had some old recording of the same classical music by an unknown orchestra than it seems that might be free and clear.
Of course I may be completely wrong, and that is why I am asking.

vangogh
03-03-2009, 10:49 AM
I would think the song is going to be the property of the orchestra unless otherwise noted. You'd think the song itself is now public domain, but the performance and recording likely still have a copyright or something similar.

KristineS
03-03-2009, 12:34 PM
I would guess Vangogh is right about this. If someone performs the song and sells the recording than that recording of the song belongs to them and they own the rights.

Marcomguy
03-04-2009, 06:59 PM
According to this site (http://www.pdinfo.com/index.php), there are no public domain music recordings in the US. (Don't know if that's true, but I'll take their word for it since I have no information to the contrary.)

However, if you Google a few search terms like "public domain music," you might come across something that an artist has made available for public use.

Harold Mansfield
03-04-2009, 07:11 PM
It is my understanding that much classical music is not under copy write, that is the music itself, but the performance may be.
There are a lot of familiar songs (in the last 200 years) that have expired and never renewed and are public domain.
You would have to do a search...but for instance, I think Beethoven's 5th Symphony is one that is public domain, meaning you can perform it, or use it without royalty. (but if you use someones performance or interpretation, then it's a copy write issue...catch 22)

That is just an example,,,,,there are songs like that out there.
There is also a whole catalog of old jingles and one hit wonders that have expired also.

Vivid Color Zack
03-10-2009, 02:01 PM
There are stock music sites out there too, similar to stock photo sites where you can pay a one time fee to use their tunes.

I don't know about their restrictions for commercials though. I have used them for eblasts in the past though and been pretty happy with it.

Oh and the tune on my old site has it. R1 Strategic, Inc. - Advanced Marketing Support Group (http://www.r1strategic.com) HOW COOL IS THAT BEAT???!!?? lol :)

nealrm
03-10-2009, 06:11 PM
I would say that eborg is right. The songs themselfs maybe public demain but the preformances are not. In general, if someone has put work into creating an item, you need to pay them for that work.

Business Attorney
03-11-2009, 01:15 AM
Actually, saying that there are no recordings in the public domain in the U.S. is wrong:

1. Sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, are not eligible for federal copyright protection. The Sound Recording Act of 1971, the present copyright law, and the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 cannot be applied or be construed to provide any retroactive protection for sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972. Such works, however, may be protected by various state laws or doctrines of common law.

2. Some people (usually not professional musicians) have released their performances into the public domain or have licensed them under a Creative Commons license that would permit commercial use of their recording.

3. The music (as opposed to the sound recording) had the same procedural requirements as any other published work. As a result, if a musical work was first published or copyrighted between January 1, 1923, and December 31, 1949, and the copyright was not renewed during the last (28th) year of the first term of the copyright, copyright protection expired permanently at the end of the 28th year of the year date it was first secured. Those works are now permanently in the public domain.

4. Prior to 1978, works were required to contain a copyright notice. If the work was published without the notice, it is in the public domain.

No law restores the copyright of works once they are in the public domain, except that certain treaties may restore the copyright on foreign-created works that were lost.

Even if a work is in the public domain in the United States, this does not necessarily mean that you are free to use it in other countries. Every nation has its own laws governing the length and scope of copyright protection, and these are applicable to uses of the work within that nationís borders. Thus, the expiration or loss of copyright protection in the United States may still leave the work fully protected against unauthorized use in other countries.

For more information, see U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 22, How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work from which some of this post is excerpted

Business Attorney
03-11-2009, 01:30 AM
One more thing, even if the original music is ancient, many works by modern orchestras are new musical arrangements of the public domain music. Derivative works, such as musical arrangements, are independently copyrightable. So, a 1965 recording of a Beethoven symphony may still present copyright problems because the arranger's copyright on his arrangement may still be valid.

vangogh
03-11-2009, 02:15 AM
many works by modern orchestras are new musical arrangements of the public domain music. Derivative works, such as musical arrangements, are independently copyrightable.

That's what I was thinking when I posted above. Do you know if the arrangement was the same would it still be copyrightable? Odds are the arrangement would be changed, but out of curiosity do you know how it works?

I'm pretty sure there's a good amount of blues music in the public domain. I've noticed over the years seeing many artists list a song as Traditional instead of crediting a song writer. I had always taken that to mean the song was public domain and I assumed it was because no one knew who had written it. So much of the blues was passed down orally (or would it be aurally in this case). I would assume if you can't show who created something, but you know it's existed for quite some time it falls into public domain.

Business Attorney
03-11-2009, 10:31 AM
For an arrangement, or any other published work, to be copyrightable, the author must have contributed some level of creativity. If there were no changes from the prior work, clearly there is no creative element. Recopying something is not enough. If the changes are minor, or if they are of a clerical or ministerial nature, the work will not be enough to constitute a new copyrightable work.

Your assumption about the word "traditional" in the context of authorship is correct. Music publishers use the word when the author of the work is obscured by time and when the work has been handed down through the generations. For more recent works where there is probably a single author but the work cannot be traced (a very rare occasion), I have seen them use the word "unknown."

Of course, just because the author is not known does not mean, under the current law, that the author does not have a copyright. If the author identifies himself and proves the source of the work, he can enforce his copyright.

vangogh
03-11-2009, 12:05 PM
Thanks David. That all makes sense. So a note for not performance probably isn't copyrightable, but having made significant changes to the song would be.

With those Traditional songs it's highly unlikely an author will come forward at this point given the songs are about 150 year old.

Business Attorney
03-11-2009, 01:28 PM
Thanks David. That all makes sense. So a note for not performance probably isn't copyrightable, but having made significant changes to the song would be.

With those Traditional songs it's highly unlikely an author will come forward at this point given the songs are about 150 year old.

You're right about the "Traditional" songs. I was really referring to those newer songs sometimes published with the author as "Unknown."

vangogh
03-11-2009, 01:52 PM
Or old Led Zeppelin songs where they never credited the original artist and have Page and Plant listed as the songwriters. Granted some of the songs are definitely different, but it's often obvious what the original song was and who the songwriter was.

Then again they did help revive the careers of a few blues artists so everyone was probably happy.