Despite a plea for someone to buy me an iPad... nobody ever did. :-(
|"Sampling: Theft or Tribute?"|
Is sharing scanned sheet music legal?
Time has moved on. I now own a Kindle and this weekend I booked in some time on Mrs Uke's iPad to give scanning another go. Here's what I learnt...
So there you have it. Experiment over! I think it has been a success! Let's move on. As part of doing all this I started worrying about copyright infringement and did some research into what I can and can't do. To be honest, I'm still unclear. I was considering perhaps sharing with you some scans of complete songs that are out of copyright. The problem is that it's not at all clear which songs are out of copyright and there doesn't seem to be anyone to ask. I'm going to err of the side of caution for now and not share.
|"King Uke - Island Warrior!"|
Here's what I think I've learnt from reading through the spaghetti that is UK's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988. The rules aren't clear to the lay-man and there seem to be some complications specific to sheet music. Remember that I am not an expert in Law!
- Copyright on a song expires 70 years after the end of the calendar year that the author dies. If there is more than one author, then it ends 70 years after the death of the last author. The authors are the names that you often see at the top or sometimes at the bottom of sheet music stating who created the lyrics and music. If the author isn't known then copyright expires 70 years after the end of the calendar year that the song was first published. Sheet music is one form of publishing.
- Like the rest of us, sheet music publishers are subject to copyright law. They must agree terms with with the author prior to publishing the author's work. In return for the exclusive right to publish they typically pay royalties to the author. My understanding is that the copyright date you often find at the bottom of sheet music (with a copyright symbol and the publisher's name) is the date that the publisher and author think the copyright is effective from. I guess you might be able to use this as the date of publication in the case where the author is unknown?
- Often sheet music has credits for the arrangement or tabbing of the sheet music. Unfortunately for tabbers and arrangers, it doesn’t look like you have any special rights through copyright law.
- And of course, older sheet music often comes with fantastic artwork on the cover. This is subject to copyright in the same way that song itself is. I assume that the original artist owns the copyright to the picture unless stated otherwise. Artist's details are rarely printed on sheet music making this potentially more of a copyright minefield than the music itself. :-s
- If the song is not within copyright then the song and sheet music is considered "Public Domain" and free to distribute.
The song I've used to do my little scanning experiment above is "My Girl's a Yorkshire Girl", a song written in 1908 by Clarence Wainwright Murphy (1875-1913) and Dan Lipton (1873-1935). Dudley Bayford is credited with the arrangement. The sheet music I have was published as part of volume of apparently unrelated songs by Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd. They produced a number of collections like this often recycling many of the same old songs. I don’t have the complete book (just pages 35-186) so I can’t tell you when it was published or what it was called, but it is likely to have been published circa 1920.
At face value, this song is Public Domain; the authors died more than 70 years ago. The only people who might know for certain are publishers Francis, Day and Hunter. This business no longer exists and I'm uncertain as to who they sold their catalogue of copyright materials to. It could be EMI. It could be Warner. How would I find this out? Even if I did find the current owners of the original publishing rights, how would they know themselves that copyright had lapsed? Would they tell me if they did know? Gah!
Like I said... this is a minefield...
|You never saw me...|
Until the next time...