My son is supposed to play on a radio show in about a month and he was going to play Ravel's Tzigane. We were informed today that he can't play it because it is still under copyright in the US...the show won't let you play anything published after 1923 or under copyright. Luckily, he has a bunch of other repertoire ready that he can choose from.
I know nothing about copyright law when it comes to performing. Can someone explain this to me? Are we violating the law every time he performs the piece for a competition or student recital?
Wow, that's an interesting one. I would have thought that the copyright applies to the reproduction and sale of the score, and that when you buy the score you are granted permission to play it having paid royalties to the composer and publisher via its purchase, and that is perhaps true for personal use, but not so for public performance. A little research led to this link
its because its on the radio, I think.
This is specifically "performing rights", which is a subset of copyright law. Performance on the radio falls under the "transmission rights" clause within performing rights law.
Funny, first you pay a fortune for Tzigane or anything else French. It's too big to fit in your music drawer.
Thank you all so much for the information--that makes a whole lot of sense that is primarily about the broadcast and not just the performance.
Must be a French thing. I've got a trio by Jacques Ibert and it's on huge paper. Maybe George Bush was right about "freedom fries."
I'm not a lawyer but I have done a lot of research into copyright law as it pertains to musicians.
Thank you, David, for the detailed explanation. So if he played the piece a month later in 2020 it would be OK. How crazy is that?
Sorry to hear that.
One of the problems in obtaining such a right is that it involves knowing the listening audience size of the radio station, and the performing rights organization, most likely ASCAP in the case of classical pieces, has pre-set rates depending on audience size and whether or not the performance is also streamed on-line.
Makes me wonder how the producers of "From the Top" manage the copy/performance rights issue? Then again, they are on Public Radio so perhaps there is either the blanket license or and exemption.
There are very few exemptions so it is most likely that they have the blanket licenses. Copyright owners can give permission for a work of theirs to be used without payment of performance, broadcast or streaming royalties. So a composer, assuming they haven't assigned control of the copyright to their publisher, can allow such a performance without payment if they so choose.
I think its a little late to ask Ravel for permission!!
The radio station probably has a blanket license for recorded music, and whoever published the recorded music tracks almost certainly had rights clearance to make and then sell the recordings. So not that odd for a radio station to be unable to cope with live music...
Who currently owns the copyright in a recently deceased composer's works? Because it is that owner of the copyright whom you should have to ask permission of. Is it, for example, a family descendant, his estate (in the legal sense), or the current publisher?
Individual approval is not going to be possible in this situation, as the station would have to do it. He will just play the Ravel for a bunch of things after 1/1/20. For this, he's probably going to play Fritz Kreisler's Recitativo and Scherzo, which better be OK since it is from 1911. It's one of his pieces he can pull out and play when you need something short and nice. Given the restraints -- one month notice, <8 minutes, written before 1923 -- it is a bit challenging to find something. In addition to the radio performance, he's soloing with two different orchestras on two different pieces (Vieuxtemps Concerto #5 and Winter from the Four Seasons) within the first two weeks of December, so he doesn't really have time to polish something else up.
Kreisler died in 1963. Add 50 or 75 years, according to the country...
In the U.S. something Kreisler published/copyrighted in 1911 is in the public domain since the copyright and its renewal would have expired before the 1976 rewrite of the copyright law in the U.S.
Er, David, from the link you just gave, I find this:
I believe the 70 year thing is only for works written AFTER the law was passed.
Those of use who download scores from IMSLP will doubtless have read this warning notice that comes up on the screen before you go ahead with the download:
Susan is right -- that protection of life plus 70 years is for works which were created after 1976 in the U.S. Older works which were still protected by copyright when the 1976 law went into effect were granted a total of 75 years under that law (up from the 56 of the original copyright period and the renewal period) which was later extended to a total of 95 years with the Sonny Bono / Mickey Mouse law. So works originally published in the U.S. in 1923 are now in the public domain in the U.S. Works from 1924 will enter the public domain this coming January 1, 2020 at 1 second after midnight.
The bottom line is that it is well and truly time to take legislatures to task for the ridiculous reach of copyright laws.
U.S. Patents are 20 years. That term was settled upon because most inventions had been replaced by newer inventions (with new patents) by the time 20 years had expired. However drug companies are pushing hard to get the patent term extended much longer so they can continue to profit more and keep generic versions off the market.
Most certainly, I have not "oversimplified the protections that copyright gives".
Perhaps not really relevant to this copyright discussion but there is one intellectual property right that can last forever provided you keep paying the renewal fees when required - the registered trademark. It is fair to say that a good trademark will often earn you more than you'll get out of time-limited patent and copyright protections for the same product.
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