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Old 01-05-2016, 03:18 PM
dj dj is offline
Join Date: Jan 1970
Location: Balderson, Ontario, Canada, 100 kms (60 miles) from Ottawa
Posts: 596
Default Re: Take me home country roads

Hi, Martin:

Generally speaking, as long as the creator died more than 71 years ago (in the U.S; 51 in my country), then there is no copyright existing in the work.

So, if they died in 1945 or before, generally speaking, no problem.

=====> HOWEVER! <=====

Certain works that were created prior to changes in the copyright laws during the early 1970s (sorry, but I can't be more exact there. My memory fails me.) may already be in public domain even though the creator died after 1945. Prior to the 1970s, copyright existed for a fixed term -- 27 years and an optional renewal term of 28, if I recall. This means that, prior to the changes in the 1970s, many works fell into public domain during the lifetime of the creator. For example, the early works of ragtime great Eubie Blake, who started composing in the 1890s, are in public domain, even though Blake lived to be 96 and died in 1983. The copyright terms of his early works had expired and the works fallen into public domain while he still lived. Later works, possibly not.

Then, of course, there are posthumously published works. Mark Twain's new two-part autobiography, published in 2010 and 2011, is under copyright for another 45 years, even though he died in 1910. Works not published during the author's lifetime have 50 years of copyright protection from the date of publication (in Canada, not sure of the term length in the U.S., but probably 70 years). Works that are never published enjoy copyright protection until such time as they are published when the posthumous publication term begins.

Anonymous works have a copyright protection that is similar to posthumous publication.

Then, there are government-created works, which, in Canada at least, often have perpetual copyright. The governments of France and Australia claim perpetual copyright over The Marseillaise and Waltzing Matilda, respectively, even though the works were created hundreds of years ago. The Beatles got into trouble for using The Marseillaise to begin All You Need Is Love.

Then there's Columbia Records trying to enforce copyright on Happy Birthday, which is a lyric of five words to a tune that is at least 150 years old and which had been shown to have been published in the 1890s. Royalties on that were worth several million a year to them, so they fought it to the end. A recent court ruling may have put an end to that, though.

So, you can see, if you want to make money from the arts, become a copyright lawyer -- they're the only ones who do.

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