As I’ve said in several threads already I plan on doing some covers of old tracks from the 1910-1930’s. Many of these are in the public domain, some are not and some might be.
From Stanford Copyright and Fair Use webpage we learn this:
“If you plan on using a work that was published after 1922, but before 1964, you should research the records of the Copyright Office to find if a renewal was filed.”
With that in mind I’ve been looking up songs at the Library of Congress website but am a bit confused on the results. SO… perhaps someone with understanding of this can help me. (this might take some playing along at home with results)
Let’s use a song called Crazy Words, Crazy Tune from 1926 - music written by Milton Ager; lyrics by Jack Yellen.
I first did a search on “Crazy Words” and got several choices, one of which was the complete song title that had the following three entries.
The first two items appear to be copyrights of compilation records. More directly “compilation of sounds and compilation of photos” as stated in the Warner Brothers application.
Considering the Warner Brothers copyright was in 1979 (53 years after Crazy Words, Crazy Tune was written) I assume this means ONLY the compilation recordings are subject to copyright and not the songs themselves. Meaning I can not make a copy of the compilation and sell it, but I could re-record the song and sell that.
The last entry, Item 3, appears to be a copyright of a new version of the song with added music and lyrics.
Next I did a search on Author. The name Ager, Milton appeared twice, one with 58 entries, the other with 4. Of that, several songs appear but none matching Crazy Words, Crazy Tune.
A search on Yellen, Jack turned up five different items with 109 entries, none of which match our song.
With this I can assume the song Crazy Words, Crazy Tune falls under public domain -that is, unless I’ve missed something completely. Which is, of course, my question.