How do I easily and effortlessly find out DEFINITIVELY if a song is in the Public Domain for free use in a TV show?
December 14, 2007 10:12 AM Subscribe
Here is an example... My Boss: "We want to use the Can Can song. Our music guy has done a recording for us. Is it in the Public Domain?" Me: "Yes. The composer, J. Offenbach, has been deceased since 1880 and if we are doing our own arrangement we are fine." My Bosses Boss: "About 5 years ago, I tried to clear this song for use in a TV production and discovered that it was NOT in the Public Domain. Elle Vator, can you research this and let us know the answer two months ago?"
posted by Elle Vator to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, so I need a clear and absolutely sure was to prove that we are clear to use specific classical songs, in our show.
As I said in my previous question about photo rights, I am in one of those 'opportunity' jobs, in that I can either succeed in a difficult, no-budget kind of a situation and be a hero to the show I am working on, or fail and be entirely expendable. I would like to be a hero... please help me do so!
When I was trained, I was told that the way to ascertain if a song was usable was to check the Date of Death of the composer(s). If it was more than 50-100 years in the past, we could use it (we're in Canada, but need to take international rules into consideration for international sales). What I do is I find something confirming the composer's DoD, sometimes Wikipedia, which I know is not ideal. I print it off, attach a note and file it in the legal binder where I would normally put a Release.
I then got another note from the legal department that I had to check the arrangement we were using and do the same thing with the Arranger as well.
My current problem is with "Gaiete Parisienne" (a.k.a "The CanCan") by J. Offenbach. This was used in our show before I started and was okayed by the person I was hired to replace. According to the above two qualifications, we are fine. However, a higher-up in production seems to feel that we are not fine.
I am in a position to solve this problem before it starts on 20 other songs.
How do I get a definitive answer and come off as heroic and highly unexpendable to my bosses? Please advise.