[Dixielandjazz] Re: Right to Play Tunes was Public Domain

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Feb 12 13:02:05 PST 2004

> "Rev M J (Mike) Logsdon" <mjl at ix.netcom.com> asked
> If a song must have been written in or prior to 1922 (as per the website
> that was provided) for it to be Public Domain, what about all the songs
> that you all play that were obviously written after 1922?  Do you all
> have legal permission to play them?
> Just really curious,

No, you do not have legal permission to play them, (In the USA) unless you obtain it from the owner of the copyright, or pay a licensing fee. That includes "Happy Birthday" which I believe was not copyrighted in the USA until the mid 1930s. Seems
to me ASCAP or someone sued the Boy Scouts a few years ago for singing it around the campfire at Jamboree's.

Worldwide copyright laws vary, but I doubt many, if any, of us have the legal right to play those songs.

The US music copyright laws are badly in need of some revision, IMO. Totally unworkable, they make criminals of virtually every musician, and club owner, and venue where live music is performed, as well as all of the producers and users of fake

Also, depending upon where and who makes your CDs, the manufacturer may demand that you license songs after 1923 before they will replicate the CD. Costs about $80 per song under 4 minutes, for 1000 CDs. More if the song is longer than 4 minutes.

That explains why, in part, many of the bop songs were the identical chords of a popular song, however with a different melody. No license fees due etc. Ko Ko = Cherokee, Hot House = What Is This Thing Called Love, Sweet Clifford = Sweet Georgia
Brown and so on.

Want to be 100% legal? Play an improvised melody ofver the chords and call the tune something else.

Steve Barbone

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