Recently I retrieved my family’s old piano from storage, and have been wanting to get back into Ragtime playing again. So, shouldn’t the older pieces be in the public domain? IIRC an original copyright in those days ran for 50 years, then could be renewed once. Scott Joplin’s widow Lottie, in 1948, renewed the copyright on Maple Leaf Rag, since it was due to expire in another year, but I’d think that would have run out by now.
I can see how if a modern collection is published, there would be copyright in the introductory materials and performance notes, but wouldn’t the actual music be in the public domain? I’m curious because I thought some of the older material, from 1905 and before, should now be public property and hence downloadable for free.
How do copyrights work in this regard?