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Help! Performing copyright WWI songs

Steve Parkes 17 Mar 13 - 11:05 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 17 Mar 13 - 11:11 AM
Midchuck 17 Mar 13 - 12:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Mar 13 - 01:38 PM
Steve Parkes 17 Mar 13 - 03:52 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 17 Mar 13 - 05:35 PM
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Subject: Help! Performing copyright WWI songs
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 11:05 AM

Problem: can't get an answer from the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

With the centenary of the War coming up next year, I'm looking into the idea of performing some of the well-known popular songs that were sung by the Forces and at home. This would most likely be a not-for-profit and/or fund-raising event at a small (probably fewer than 50 attending) venue on the Isle of Wight. While I expect some of the material will be out of copyright by now, I think quite a few pieces will not be.

My main source is a Daily Express community songbook from 1930. The publishers' names are given, but none of them seem to be contactable on-line; I dare say some of them will have been taken over by other publishers anyway. Some of the original sheet music I've seen specifically states "may be performed in public except in theatres & music halls"; I presume this still applies, if I can show the evidence. I've emailed the PRS ... and got an out-of-office reply:
... We will endeavour to reply within 3 working days, however in busy periods this is not always possible ... To enable us to deal with your query please provide your PRS for Music account number on your email.

Obviously, I haven't got an account with them! Does anyone have experience of this kind of thing? Do you know who I can get in touch with?


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Subject: RE: Help! Performing copyright WWI songs
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 11:11 AM

I would think that copyright would be long expired on most WW1 songs. Copyright expiry in most places would be based on the date of death of the authour, not a publication.


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Subject: RE: Help! Performing copyright WWI songs
From: Midchuck
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 12:22 PM

You're probably talking about British copyright law, which is outside my field of competence. If I have one. But in US, copyright was for 28 years, with one renewal for another 28 years. That was the law until 1978, when Disney corp. realized Mickey Mouse was about to go into public domain, so paid the members of Congress whatever was necessary to pass a new statute, extending all copyrights then in force. But they couldn't re-impose copyright on stuff that was already in public domain.

78 - 56 = 22. Therefore, in general, anything copyrighted in the US before 1922 is public domain. Since WW I ended in '18 or '19 (I'm not sure, even I wasn't there), anything published during that war would be in public domain in the US, now.

I think.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Help! Performing copyright WWI songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 01:38 PM

Copyright would apply to revisions/versions made after 1923; the original versions, I believe, are all public domain. This is U.S.

Questions like this come up frequently on mudcat; a copyright lawyer is need in the membership.


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Subject: RE: Help! Performing copyright WWI songs
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 03:52 PM

In UK law (which applies to me) copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the writer/composer, which means right now they have to have died before 1943. (For recordings, it's 50 years after first publication.) For instance, It's a long, long way to Tipperary was written in 1912 by Jack Judge (d. 1938) and Harry Williams (d. 1924) is OK, but Goodbye-ee was written in 1916 by R P Weston (d. 1936) and Bert Lee -- who lasted till 1946. Quite a few of the writers or co-writers lived to a ripe old age. (Maybe there's a link -- good news for some of us!)

Q, you're right! Peter, the fighting stopped in '18, but the official end was in '19, which I still find confusing. (And it started in 1914, not 1917!!)


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Subject: RE: Help! Performing copyright WWI songs
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 05:35 PM

Richard Bridge is in Britain and a Mudcat member and expert.


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