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Old May 10th, 2004, 09:27 PM   #1
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more copyright questions

Ok, I'm working on a video for a nonprofit org. Its a clubhouse for people with serious mental illness. I want to use Somewhere Over the Rainbow as a theme. I have an acoustic guitarist who plays it beautifully. How the heck to I find out whether I can use it or not. I don't want any problems down the road. Should I just give up and use something else? Does the nonprofit status for education qualify here?
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Old May 11th, 2004, 02:33 AM   #2
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My knowledge on the subject is:

You would need to get performance or master use rights from the owner of Over the Rainbow (EMI, I believe). I've never tried such, but I would bet that they wouldn't turn you down or ask for an incredibly high amount of money, considering it is on the behalf of a non-profit.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 02:46 AM   #3
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ASCAP is a good place to start your search for obtaining permission.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:16 AM   #4
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Thanks for your replies. I tried ASCAP but couldn't seem to find anything, but then I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate the site. I'll keep trying. I'll also try EMI.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 12:43 PM   #5
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You're probably looking at more than one license. You'll need a performance license and also a mechanical license. I would start with the Harry Fox Agency (HFA). they have always been very helpful in the past and have great customer service.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 07:52 AM   #6
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Doesnt this meet the "out of copyright" rule for being so old? As long as the original musicians are not used wouldnt it be OK to re-make it because of it's age? I forget how many years or the facts but maybe someone can answer this.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 08:53 AM   #7
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Thats what I was thinking but then again if the copyright was renewed it could probably go on and on. I'm no expert tho. I decided to play it safe and either use something like Amazing Grace (civil war era) or go ahead and use something from my royalty free library, or something original.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 10:09 AM   #8
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when things go public domain

My understanding is that current law is death plus 90 years. That started sometime around 1977 I think. From 1928 to 1977 it was death plus 75. And before 1928 I believe it was just 75 years after publication with options to renew. But I'm saying all this from memory. If you really want to learn about copyright issues the US Copyright office http://www.copyright.gov/ is a good spot. As is the Library of Congress.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 12:01 PM   #9
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If the performer plays from sheet music, or uses a known arrangement, then there would still be licensing for copyright. The arrangement can be copyrighted.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 01:27 PM   #10
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"How the heck to I find out whether I can use it or not. I don't want any problems down the road. Should I just give up and use something else? Does the nonprofit status for education qualify here?"

No, the nonprofit status does not qualify since there is no "non-profit" exception for copyrights. There can fair use when the work is a parody, or oriented toward education, etc., but that wouldn't likely qualify here despite the good nature of the work.

You can find out if it's public domain by contacting the copyright office and finding out when it was first copyrighted. If you are just playing it on a guitar and not using someone else's arrangement, there'd be no problem there, but if the song itself is still copyrighted from the original version, you need permission.
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