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Old November 23rd, 2007, 01:11 PM   #1
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Copyright question

I'm working on a project that will use sound clips from pre-1950s radio shows in a title sequence. Reading various posts around the web, those radio shows were never registered for copyright, and should be in the public domain. Does anyone know if pre-1950s radio drama broadcasts are actually public domain?

Also, on a sidenote, I want to use some music from the early 1900s (song itself and performance). Those recordings should be public domain now, but I'd like to make sure (dates from 1907 - 1919).

Thanks,

Jeremiah Hall
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 01:51 PM   #2
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The rule of thumb is that anything recorded is probably not in the public domain and will need to be cleared. Various state laws covered early recordings and can still be in force.

There are various companies marketing pre 1950s radio shows, so I think the rights issue could well be up in the air. I'd check with a quick inquiry to a clip clearance house because there can be multiple rights holders in these situations. Just because the radio script may be in the public domain does not mean you can use the voice of a performer or any music that was used etc.

See: http://www.bzrights.com/101.htm or http://www.signature-sound.com/clipclearance.html

(not recommending any firm one way or another, BTW)
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 05:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremiah Hall View Post
I'm working on a project that will use sound clips from pre-1950s radio shows in a title sequence. Reading various posts around the web, those radio shows were never registered for copyright, and should be in the public domain. Does anyone know if pre-1950s radio drama broadcasts are actually public domain?

Also, on a sidenote, I want to use some music from the early 1900s (song itself and performance). Those recordings should be public domain now, but I'd like to make sure (dates from 1907 - 1919).

Thanks,

Jeremiah Hall
According to law, a copyright exists from the moment a copyrightable work is fixed into a tangible form. Registration of the copyright isn't required for it to be legal and enforcable. Because of changes brought about in the Bono legislation, even recordings dating from the turn of the 20th Century may have copyright issues, much less those dating from the 40's or 50's. I've read some postings from people who have run into problems posting mp3's on the web made from Edison wax cylinders, fer cryin' out loud!

NEVER rely on thinking that goes "it should be in the public domain by now!" If you can get your hands on it commercially, it's most likely NOT public domain
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