Talk:Public domain

I felt free to copy Carolus' message about the copyright issue after 1923:

The safest way to handle any work published 1923-1963 is to assume that such works are proctected in the USA. The burden of proof is on the poster to demonstrate that a)no renewal registration was filed 28 years after publication and that no NIE (Notice of Intent to Enforce) was filed under the restoration of foreign copyrights provision of GATT/TRIPs. For the USA, all works - whether the composer, arranger, or editor died in ancient times or lived until quite recently (like Irving Berlin) - first published in that 40 year interval have a very high potential of still being under copyright. The "Public Domain" page here at IMSLP is quite good overall, but the charts are still a little confusing with respect to US copyrights as they appear to imply that post-1922 works of composers who died more than 70 years ago are PD, which is not the case. Composers like Gershwin and Ravel are particularly problematic in this regard. The composer's date of death does not come into play for determining copyright term until 1978 or later for published works, and 2003 for unpublished works. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (published 1924) will be protected in the USA through 11:59 PM on December 31, 2029 regardless of its status elsewhere.

The rule of thumb for US copyright status:
Published (regardless of composer's death date) 1922 or earlier = PD
Published (regardless of composer's death date)1923-1963 or later = Copyright unless you can prove otherwise
Published 1964-1977 = Copyright
Published 1978 and later = Copyright
Unpublished (manuscript), last surviving author died 70+ years ago = PD
Unpublished (manuscript), last surviving author died <70 years ago = Copyright

I based these tables mainly on the document at Cornell. My interpretation was the following: For the works of Ravel, the copyright status falls under "WORKS PUBLISHED OUTSIDE THE US". If the work is published in compliance with US Formalities, then the US protection of +95 y after pub date applies, otherwise it's in public domain when in the home country (+70y after death for EU). So the publication being in compliance with US formalities makes the difference. For this, the work should be published in the US within 30days, with a formal copyright notice. So if I'm getting it right, we should get this information. So if the score says only copyright 1930, Durand, Paris, this would be not in compliance ? --Peter 18:08, 28 December 2006 (EST)
Oh, and the tables were originally designed to be only for the copyright status of works published outside the US, but this got lost after a while...
After all, IMSLP is blessed to be based in Canada :)
I wholeheartedly agree with your last sentence haha :) US copyright law is such a patchwork, though Australia's is even worse... on the other hand, Canadian copyright law is the cleanest copyright law I've seen (and the shortest).
I think the problem that Carolus is trying to point out is that it is quite hard to get information on such things, and if I remember correctly he said a while ago that there are people willing to pay for such information. I guess this is because publishers don't really like to have their publications fall into the public domain, and thus don't provide this information (and continue publishing them as if nothing happened).
My personal take on this is that I'm ok with tagging pages with dubious public domainness (even if with only a note saying that "you're on your own"), just because it doesn't really affect the availability of the scores to anyone; and for those actually in the US, they can look up the copyright law themselves and decide whether they want to take the risk. --Feldmahler 19:43, 28 December 2006 (EST)
I don't mean to reply for Carolus, but I reread the Cornell page, and I think the confusion is because of the following footnote:
8 The following section on foreign publications draws extensively on Stephen Fishman, The
Public Domain: How to Find Copyright-free Writings, Music, Art & More. (Berkeley:, 2004). 
It applies to works first published abroad and not subsequently published in the US within 30 days of the original foreign publication.  Works that were simultaneously published abroad and in the
US are treated as if they are American publications.
I think that he meant that
1. If the work is published in the US within 30 days of its first publication elsewhere, the work is treated as if it was first published in the US.
2. If the work was not published in the US within 30 days of its first publication, the work is treated as a "work published outside the US".
I think the misunderstanding is because of the use of the word "simultaneous", which is not entirely correct here... more accurately "simultaneous" here means within 30 days. And I don't think the footnote explains what the "US formalities" are...
Anyway, this is my take on this, and again, not intended as a reply for Carolus... I would also like to get confirmation about this from Carolus :) --Feldmahler 05:31, 30 December 2006 (EST)


PD - US vs. non-US


Copyright formalities used to make more of a difference than for non-US works than they do now. The Ravel example is not a good one in a way, because Durand is well-known for being very good about both making sure everything was published with the correct notice and with filing timely renewal registrations. They would have their 95 years whether the GATT/TRIPs amendments were there or not. Same deal for Ricordi, who even managed to renew works while Italy was at war with the US (1941-1944). The big beneficiaries of the whole GATT/TRIPS "restoration" were the Russians - especially Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Works of citizens of the USSR were not eligible for copyright protection until the UCC treaty of 1955, and only in a roundabout way even then. So the 1930 Ravel publication (which happened to comply with the formalities) would be accorded the 95-year term even if Durand had failed to comply (provided they file the NIE before Ravel expires in France).

Stravinsky's Histoire du Soldat is a good example. Chester, the publisher, negelected to renew the work and it passed into the public domain 28 years after publication in 1924 under the law in force at the time (the 1909 copyright law). Kalmus and other reprint houses took full advantage of this for years until GATT/TRIPS wen into effect. The net result of GATT/TRIPS is that works first published outside the US were given a pass on any failure to comply with formalities like notice and renewal requirements. Another good example is the Sibelius Symphony No. 6, issued by a Sockholm publisher in 1924 without a notice - now protected again until 2020. US composers and publishers have been given no such break for works published 1923-1963. If they failed to renew, or if the work was published without a notice, or a defective notice, the work is public domain. (Works published 1964 and later are renewed automatically.)

Basically, any work published outside the USA after 1922 is likely to be protected, unless it's a composer like Janacek - who was PD in his country of origin by the time GATT/TRIPS went into effect. Also, if the copyright owner of a foreign work published between 1923-1963 fails to file the NIE (Notice of Intent to Enforce) before the work expires in its country of origin, the work goes PD in the US at the same time it does in the country of origin. Any quick perusal of the NIEs filed will quickly demonstrate that full advantage of the "restoration" was taken for tens of thousands of works. Yes, our copyright law is a crazy patchwork, and it's made even worse by the antics of courts like the 9th Circuit in California, who even clouded the issue for pre-1923 publications. --- Carolus

Works already in the public domain: As touched on above, if a piece of music was DISTRIBUTED without a copyright insignia on it, and especially if it was performed, it can be considered to have entered the public domain, if this happened prior to, I believe, 1978. Therefore, there are many works that perhaps unintentionally entered public domain. I am not a lawyer, but I remember that one had to make sure to have the copyright mark on everything, I think even later than '78 to protect it, and if you gave out copies freely, it definitely entered public domain. An employee at Library of Congress confirmed this. Such work are not retroactively re-covered, as far as I know. ---- Baron Z



War time extensions were removed by the French supreme court in February 2007. So for example, works of Maurice Ravel will be in the public domain in France in January 1st, 2008. Yannf 06:14, 21 September 2007 (EDT)

Nice! Do you have a link of any sort to some news entry or the like? It'd be nice to have one so that we can give a citation for that on the public domain page. :) --Feldmahler 09:08, 21 September 2007 (EDT)

According to the Wikipedia article[1] the war-time extensions were only removed for non-musical works; unfortunately no citation is provided. The court ruling[2] does not seem to mention music. Deinonychus 17:33, 5 July 2008 (EDT)

Posthumous works in Canada?


Can someone explain what are the provisions for Posthumous works in Canada? I don't understand the legalese. [3] [4] Thanks, Yannf 12:17, 18 October 2007 (EDT)

Rule of Shorter Term : Policy needed

I would like a strict policy for the Rule of Shorter term for Soviet publications.--Peter talk 12:24, 1 November 2007 (EDT)

  • Muzgiz: allowed to which publication date?
  • What's the significance of composers/editors who died <50/70 years. Is their copyright reconstituted (if so, by whom)?
  • All living authors are protected?
  • Editio Musica Budapest: idem.
  • As EMB still exists, can it claim copyright on Soviet-era works by deceased authors?
  • Czech: I don't know until when Supraphon published scores, but same question here.

Hi Peter, Thanks to a very knowledgeable poster over at the forum, I think we can at last construct a somewhat coherent policy with regard to works published in former Communist countries that are now in the EU (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary). An EU copyright directive (93/98/EC) apparently grants a maximum term of 30 years to urtext or critical editions. This means that all such editions of older works issued by EMB, Supraphon and PWM before 1978 are fair game thanks to RoST. In Italy, the term is only 20 years and in Germany and the UK it's 25 years. Unless there are shorter terms in individual EU countries, all critical editions published in the EU have a maximum term of 30 years after publication.

So, here's the best answer I can think of for all EU countries (including Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary):

  • Composers = life+50, or publication+50 if posthumously published
  • Composers dead over 70 years, published posthumously = publication+25 (Editio Princeps) if first publication
  • Transcribers, Arrangers, Orchestrators = life+50
  • Interpretative Editors = life+50 (These editions are almost arrangements, with considerable editorial material added to the original work)
  • Urtext Editors = publication+30, regardless of whether the editor is living or dead. (Except Italy, where it's publication+20, Germany - including East Germany / DDR - and the UK, where it's publication+25)

For Muzgiz/Muzika, I've been following the same guideline except for the urtext editions, which I've considered to be fair game up through the end of the USSR in 1990. There was no music published that was not published by the government until after that date, and all such editions were prepared by government employees as part of their employment. Previously, I'd been inclined to treat urtext editions produced by EMB, PWM, and Supraphon the same way. Since those countries are now part of the EU, I expect the publication+30 year rule might need to apply. However, it could be argued that such editions produced by EMB, Supraphon, PWM, and the several places in East Germany (Peters Leipzig, Breitkopf Leipzig, and DVfM) before 1989 were all the work of government employees working within the scope of their employment at the state-owned publishing house. Soviet composers like Shostakovich and their works were still accorded protection for a full term in Canada and in Europe, at least starting in the 1930s. The USA was the only place where they were 'restored' to copyright status. Carolus 20:07, 1 November 2007 (EDT)

Thank you for your precious advice. I will construct a guideline somewhere on an appropriate page, which I still need to find. After this I'll move this to the talk page. Peter talk 11:12, 2 November 2007 (EDT)
Oh, one more question. Any directions on when to consider an editor 'critical' and when a 'normal' editor? I.e., what is the minimum of editorial material needed for Urtext consideration? I know it might be difficult to give simple rules as there are many variations to the extent of the editing work, so we could also just keep on marking these submissions CR and leave it up to you to decide :)--Peter talk 14:27, 2 November 2007 (EDT)
Some examples
  • "Edited and fingered by..."
  • "Revised by..."
  • "New revised edition..."
  • Statement of sources and critical remarks (e.g. Henle)

Hi again, Now we're into the rather subjective determination of what constitutes an 'urtext' type edition vs. an 'interpretative' type edition. International Music provides a good example of the 'interpretative' type of edition: The editor is usually a well-known performer or teacher, there are plenty of added dynamics, articualtions, slurs, fingerings, etc - even if they've been penned on top of an old Breitkopf engraving. So, it's fair to assume that any IMC publication editor has to have been dead over 50 years to be included in IMSLP. The problem with the terms you listed - apart from "Edited and fingered by..." - is that they can mean almost anything. I even know of a fairly popular new orchestral series which are actually transcriptions or orchestrations even though the credit clearly states "Edited by...". Peters, for example, loves to take one of their publications dating back from the golden era of the late-19th or early-20th centuries, add a new name as "editor", and stick a new copyright notice upon it. Unfortunately, the burden of proof lies upon us when confronted with such claims. Copyfraud, which there is no effective law against, is much more widespread than many realize. We probably should think about setting up a review process for editions to determine what, exactly, was done by the editor. Perhaps a new admin category called "Editorial Review" would be the way to go - sort of like "Copyright Review" but without the warning language. That naturally just adds to the large backlog of things to do, but I expect it might be needed to avoid C & D letters in the future. Another plus is that such information might prove valuable to musicians considering the purchase of a new copy of some well-known work, and IMSLP would be the ultimate place to go to find out about what is what with all the different editions available. Carolus 15:13, 2 November 2007 (EDT)

You know, this makes IMSLP even more important. Like Project Gutenberg, IMSLP will now be a deterrant to what is essentially a forced implementation of perpetual copyright. The internet has opened up a whole batch of worm cans, and I'm looking forward to how copyright legislation will finally accommodate the internet in a few decades. Let us hope IMSLP will be there to witness this. :) --Feldmahler 16:32, 2 November 2007 (EDT)

Here's another point: I just noticed that the Alkan editions by Delaborde and Isidore Philipp (d.1958) came up for question. (Thanks, Peter!) Costallat, who took over Ricault in 1888, issued these editions ("revue et corrigee") around 1900 (Delaborde was Alkan's son, Philipp was probably the actual editor). Costallat did not even bother to re-engrave this edition (engraving was relatively cheap back then), but instead used the rather horrific old Richault plates - even leaving the old Richault plate number for all to see. Despite Philipp's death in 1958, these surely have to qualify as an early example of an urtext edition. Yes, there are exceptions (see International above), but one general clue as to how much editing has actually been done would be the re-use of old plates - particularly ones as old as these (ca.1861). Carolus 01:38, 3 November 2007 (EDT)

A Real-Life Example

Here's the type of dilemma we will encounter as copyright reviewers: In the course of going through Albeniz's works yesterday, I came across the Schott edition of Suite Española No.1, Op.47 by Lothar Lechner (who I cound not find dates on) that was either published sans date or at least scanned incompletely. Daphnis informs me that the earliest publication date he can find for this publication is 1960. Here's the $64,000 question as far as IMSLP is concerned: Is this an urtext edition, or an "interpretative" edition? If it's urtext, IMSLP can post it because of Section 70 of the German Copyright law, which gave it only a 25-year term following publication - even if the editor is still alive. If it is not an urtext edition, it's protected for the editor's life plus 50 years, or 50 years from publication if published posthumously.

Personally, I tend to view the standard of originality as being the most important factor in making the determination here. How much did Lechner add to this piece that was not present in the older Dotesio or Romero (later UME) scores? I suspect Lechner added very little, that the Schott score is basically a re-engraving, or an urtext edition. Of course, I don't know for sure unless I have the older score to actually compare. Anyone have the Dover reprint, or the CDSM file? Carolus 16:31, 5 November 2007 (EST)

Hmm... good question. How many of similar scores are there, in your estimation? --Feldmahler 17:37, 5 November 2007 (EST)

I'm sure there are at least several hundred - possibly as many as a thousand. Take the Alkan editions of Isidore Philipp (d.1958) as just one example. Philipp's co-editor Delaborde died in 1913, so it's fairly safe to assume that Costallat had the entire series in print by then or slightly thereafter. Costallat used the old Richault plates from the 1840s-1870s, and Delaborde and Philipp wrote prefaces, as I recall. As I mentioned earlier, it's all rather subjective. Moreover, how can we really tell what Philipp and Delaborde actually did unless we have copies of the unedited Richault prints to compare? My suspicion is that they did very little, chiefly because Alkan was fairly meticulous in the oversight of his music's publication. That's really an educated guess, though. The strictest possible interpretation would be that since Philipp died in 1958, these editions are not free in Canada until 2009.Carolus 22:43, 5 November 2007 (EST)

Correction on this matter: I was mistaken when I said the first publication occurred in 1960. It was first published in it's complete and present form (after Albeniz's addition of several of the movements) in Madrid by Union Musical Española, 1918. I am in the process of getting my hands on this score and will scan and upload it for comparison when I have it. There was never a reprint of this work by either Dover Publications or CDSM.Daphnis 19:35, 23 November 2007 (EST)

I now have the original edition from 1918 (plate 6310, Edición revisada y digitada por Juan Salvat) and will be uploading it sometime this year for comparison. But after preliminary study, it looks to be very different. Just to be on the safe side, I would probably go ahead and delete the Lechner edition and keep this original in its place. Daphnis 23:22, 5 December 2007 (EST)

Carolus, Feldmahler: See the work page for the above-mentioned first edition I've uploaded. Daphnis 14:08, 15 December 2007 (EST)

England or UK

In the Copyright Laws by Country or Territory section, do we really mean "England" or "United Kingdom"? Are there any differences under Scottish law (cf. the laws of England & Wales and Northern Ireland)? --Ant 03:20, 2 July 2008 (EDT)

That should indeed be United Kingdom. It's an error too frequently made by non-UK inhabitants. --Peter talk 07:39, 2 July 2008 (EDT)

NIE (Notice of Intent to Enforce)

I would suggest that authorized people modify the main page, probably in the note following the chart "Copyright on the composition and publication if author known, published after 1923" to provide the meaning of the abbreviation "NIE". This is very likely not to be known by many readers, especially those for whom English is not a native language.

Dead Links

While working on the simplified Chinese version of this page, I noticed that the "Czech Copyright Law" link is dead. Is there an equivalent that can be linked to instead?

Edit: here are all the dead links (replacement? Guidance - Copyright in Typographical Arrangement)