The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #10084 Message #67759
Posted By: Sandy Paton
03-Apr-99 - 12:19 AM
Thread Name: Pete Seeger's pseudonym
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's pseudonym
I'm afraid this isn't an area I know much about. We've never asked any artist to claim a copyright on a traditional song, and, like Bruce, I've never been inclined to honor spurious claims to copyright on anything I can prove pre-existed the claim in print. I've been told, but forget the exact number, how many copyrights are on file at the Library of Congress for "Barbara Allen." It would stun you.
However, I have obtained copyrights for songs I know were actually written by the singer from whom I collected them. For example, Frank Proffitt (traditional singer from North Carolina) wrote "There Ain't a Thing for a Poor Man in This World" and another song called "Blackberry Wine." We copyrighted them for him.
However, I will confess to having copyrighted a large number of Sara Cleveland's unique versions of some remarkably lovely traditional ballads and songs. This we did for one of the reasons mentioned earlier in this thread: to keep someone else from claiming them! We put them all into a single folder and copyrighted them all in one swell foop as an "opus." Now, should someone decide to claim authorship, we can prove otherwise. But we would be delighted if some singers wanted to record some of her songs and give her credit as the source, and we do not intend to ask for royalties in such a case. The idea is merely to prevent anyone else collecting royalties to which they have no right. So I suppose we're as guilty of copyrighting traditional material as the big guys are. would that we had the strength of ten because our hearts are pure!
They may have been copyrighted, Bruce, but they are still genuine folksongs.